Chapter 2 : Payback time
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“A nap room would be beneficial” I state, distracting Emily from her Transfiguration essay. Poor girl hasn’t stopped for hours, she’s not very naturally smart, but what she lacks in natural talent she makes up for in effort, something I lack. Luckily I am naturally smart, or I guess I am at least, I’m close to top in all of my classes without trying so I figure I can slack off all I want and no one would suspect a thing. Except Emily. The only reason my completed pile of homework is sitting in front of me is thanks to her bugging me about it.
“What?” she snaps; annoyed at my interruption.
“I was just thinking we should have a nap room” I explain, ignoring her glare. Poor grumpy prefect.
“A what?” she asks, an exaggerated sigh tagging along on the end, making me smile.
“A nap room! Honest Em it would be the best, you could go in between classes for naps, then you could go to your next lesson revitalised and ready to learn” I say, knowing I’m appealing to her love of learning. I was right; the idea would appeal to more than just the lazy, sleep lovers of the student body. A group I firmly include myself in.
“It’s still a stupid idea” she declares, snapping out of what I assume was a fantasy of being able to learn without being tired.
“I think it’s an incredible idea” I hear a voice state loudly behind me, making Emily jump and fall off her stool, which I just chuckle at. James Potter had been jumping out at annoyingly close intervals, in what I assume is an attempt at earning my forgiveness for blackmailing me in potions on Monday only to receive an answer he didn’t seem to want after all. Unfortunately for him, the only thing he’s earning from me is my annoyance. Thanks to his apparent guilt, I haven’t been able to prank at all this week and I am starting to get cranky. I need a way to blow off some steam, and exact some revenge, pranking seems like the perfect way to do both.
“I wonder, Potter, are you going to agree with every opinion I have?” I ask, losing my patience.
“Yes, except the one where you want me to leave. That’s a bad view to have” he says, quite cleverly anticipating the next opinion I would voice. I swallow my retort as Emily plonks back into her stool with a huff, making me laugh. My laughter escalates when she focuses her glare on Potter, deciding he was a better target ‘cause I’m not likely to feel sorry for her for falling over. It wasn’t my fault.
“Well, as much fun as all this homework has been, I have some avoiding Gryffindors to do so I’ll be in the common room if you need me” I say, gathering my completed essays. With a smile towards Emily I leave the library, the eyes of Potter following me the entire way.
Instead of heading to the common room, as I’d told Emily, I enter a hidden passageway and start towards a room I know as the ‘plotting cave’. Yeah, original, I know. I didn’t come up with it; the privilege of naming the room remains with its occupant.
Reaching the final few steps, I push open the door and dump myself and my bag onto the worn couch. “Peeves!” I yell when I’m settled.
I’m greeted by laughter as Peeves floats through the wall on my left. He grins at me, and I feel myself return the expression. I met Peeves on my first day of lessons at Hogwarts. He had decided it would be fun to annoy the first year Hufflepuffs on their way to Transfiguration, distracted by his fun he would have been caught by Professor McGonagall had I not ‘fainted,’ giving him a wink as he shot away. Since then we’ve been plotting and planning how to cause trouble, we make quite the pair.
“I need help” I state, snapping out of my reverie “Potter has been getting on my nerves and, as I understand it, you have a hatred for the boy.”
His gleeful expression is all I need to know he’s in. “What did you have in mind?”
“What’re you up to?” Emily demands. We’re lounging in front of the fire in the Hufflepuff common room, me enjoying the chatter of the boys and the twins cramming for the potions exam scheduled for tomorrow morning. How they can force themselves to do work on a Sunday, I have no idea, and apparently neither do the boys as I haven’t seen them lift a textbook or quill all day.
“What?” I ask, genuinely shocked Em has noticed anything other than the pile of work in front of her. She is devoted enough to be a Ravenclaw, but a better friend than any so I’m not surprised she was picked for Hufflepuff.
“You haven’t pranked anyone all week and it’s scaring me” she spits out. Wow. She really is worried.
“Wait, I thought you got that group of Slytherins on Monday?” Joey asks, referring to the boys I’d scared away from the Gryffindor first year, Jess.
“Yeah, but that wasn’t premeditated, doesn’t count” I explain.
“So if I killed Joey right now, it wouldn’t class as murder?” Mark butts in.
“Well, yes it would, cause it is premeditated, cause you just thought about it” I reply, enjoying Joey’s offended expression as he sat up from his spot in front of the fireplace.
“Right here guys!” he whines, “seriously, why kill me? What about Leon?”
“ I’m not blocking the fire with my big fat arse” Leon taunts, earning a grin from myself and Mark.
“Excuse me, my arse is not big or fat, it is gorgeous” Joey states.
“Of course it is honey,” I coo at him, causing him to smile and wink at me before I add “now move ‘cause that gorgeous arse is blocking the heat.”
Before I can even blink Joey rolls forwards, grabs my hand, and yanks me off my position on the sofa to land in his lap on the floor. “There, now you’re warm and you get to sit with me and my arse.”
Emily interrupts our laughter by shouting “really, none of you are worried about this?”
“Why should you be?” I ask, squirming into a more comfortable position on Joeys lap as he chuckles. I honestly don’t mind sitting on him; I’m light enough not to feel self-conscious about crushing him and we’re close enough not to feel awkward sitting so close. “Maybe I’ve stopped my mischievous ways and decided that studying is a better use of my time.”
“Or maybe you’ve been sneaking into the library every night to find a spell in the restricted section to use on Potter” she throws right back.
“You followed me?” I blurt, shock getting the better of me. I’d been so sneaky.
“No, but that’s as good as an admission of guilt for me.” Ah shit. She has me there.
“Okay, fine, I’ve been plotting revenge. How’d you guess?”
“I just know you that well. I can see Potter’s been annoying you, following you around everywhere, apologising, agreeing with everything you say; it makes sense for you to want revenge.”
“Potter’s been following you?” Mark asks, leaning forward in his seat to look at me.
“What’s he apologising for?” I hear joey inquire from behind me as he wraps his arms around my waist in a protective kind of way. I have some pretty good friends.
“Yeah, he asked about Daniel in potions after I switched seats with Evans and I’m not sure he liked what he heard” at the sound of my brother’s name the arms around my waist tighten again and I lean back into them, I’m not ashamed to admit I need the help. Just talking about him brings tears to my eyes. “He’s been apologising non-stop and it’s annoying as hell, so me and Peeves found a way to keep him away from me.”
“Peeves?!” Emily bursts out, turning red. She never has likes the poltergeist.
“Honestly, what is your problem with him? He never pranks you; you’re the only prefect he leaves alone.”
“Only ‘cause he’s friends with you” she replies, now oblivious to the workload in front of her.
“So? He’s a good guy really. Now, that essay isn’t gonna write itself.”
“Oh!” she exclaims. Easiest way to get Emily off your back; remind her she has homework. Recognising the technique I hear chuckles run through my circle of friends as she begins scrawling words down onto her page.
“So what horror is Potter facing then?” Mark asks, bringing a slightly evil grin to my face.
“You’ll see tomorrow.”
After struggling out of bed, having two cups of tea for breakfast and completing my homework last minute (again) I arrive in Slughorn’s classroom to find Lily sitting in my usual seat. With Leon in tow, I head over to her. “Hey Lily, are you just avoiding Potter or has Slughorn switched us over again?” I ask.
“Oh, hey Jem” she starts, guiltily, guess I was right the first time. “Listen, I know you guys are friends and all but Potter always distracts me in this lesson, I’m just sick of it, I thought he’d leave you alone so it’d be okay to trade seats, but if you want me-”
“Lily, stop rambling” I interrupt with a slight chuckle. “I don’t mind swapping, just do me a favour in return and help out Leon? You’re top in the class, and I recon he’d get better with you tutoring him.”
“But, Leon’s good, he usually gets the same grades as you, and you’re really good” she says, clearly confused.
“Yeah, well, it’s easy to get the same marks when the vials are filled with the same potion” I hear a voice say from behind me. “Oh look at that, you jumped again! Am I still just scary or have I been promoted yet?”
“Sirius, piss off” I say, unwilling to admit his comment was actually deserving of a laugh. His chuckle is drowned out by Lily’s shocked reply.
“You mean, you cheat?!”
“I guess you’ll see why we have to today, with you sitting next to me” Leon says, taking his seat then turning to look at me, “good luck with Potter, Jem.”
“Good luck not exploding, Leon” I throw back with a smile, all the while being tugged along to my seat by Sirius.
Looking at my new table I realise the absence of one annoying boy who should be sitting in the seat next to mine. I worked too hard on that prank to have Potter ruin it by not showing up. Maybe I performed the charm wrong. Maybe he’s unconscious somewhere. Maybe-
“Do not fear! For I am here!” I hear James bellow across the room as he slams the door closed, to add dramatic effect I assume. Guess he isn’t dead after all.
“Evans! Don’t you want to sit with me, love?” he continues, getting closer to me as he crosses the room. Just a few more steps and he’ll be in range.
“Potter, please sit down so we can begin” Slughorn complains.
“Of course, your honour” he booms, finishing with a low bow in the professor’s direction, “my deepest sympathies.”
“Yes, yes, just sit down my boy.”
Sirius’s bark of laughter is cut off by a girly shriek that emits itself from Potters mouth just as he is about to walk past me. The shriek continues, getting higher in pitch as he flails around, apparently just as confused as everyone else in the room at the sudden screaming, but more importantly, not nearly as amused. By the time James reaches his seat everyone in the room is in hysterics, clutching their tables trying not to fall over laughing as tears stream down their faces. Even Sluggy looks about ready to boom out a laugh. Taking pity on Potter’s flailing form I take a few steps away from him and the shrieking is suddenly cut off.
“What the hell?!” he screams, finally able to speak again. He looks frantically around the room, trying to spot the person responsible. I consider it a blessing when he doesn’t even glance at me, he may have noticed me now, but my invisibility apparently still extends to cover over my mischievous ways. Or it does for Potter anyway.
My eyes meet Leon’s from across the room and, upon seeing his raised eyebrow I nod slightly. Before we can stop ourselves we both fall back into barely controlled laughter as Potter and Sluggy try to find out who cast the spell. When Potter steps too close to me he once again breaks into girly screams and I struggle to keep in my laughter.
“Whoever is doing that, would you please stop, I’m trying to teach a class!” Sluggy exclaims. Well I’m not about to hand myself in so I take a small step away from Potter and he stops screaming again.
“Thank you, now, let’s get on”
“Wait! Aren’t you going to give a detention to the person who cursed me?” James shouts, clearly outraged.
“I would but I’ve no idea who it is, and neither do you, so just forget about it.”
“I know who it was” Sirius states, stepping between the arguing pair. Shit, I’d forgotten about him. But how could he know? I cast the charm last night, not anytime in class, so there was no way he’d seen me charm him. Unless he noticed that potter only started to scream when he was within two meters of me? Whatever the reason, I’m in trouble.
“And who would that be, Black?” Slughorn asks, clearly expecting it to have been Sirius. Unsurprising really, I bet every person in this room, except Black, Leon and myself, thought it was him. Plan.
“It was Sirius sir, I saw him with his wand” I say, trying my best to look like an honest little Hufflepuff.
“No, it wasn’t!” Black shouts.
“Professor, sir, I wouldn’t lie”
“Yes, Miss East, I believe you, don’t you worry. Ten points to Hufflepuff for your honesty. For you Black, a detention and ten points from Gryffindor, for disrupting my class” Sluggy snaps out. “Now sit down so we can start!”
When Sirius catches my eye with a glare I wink at him. And again my motto proves to be correct. Blame the marauders. Or in this case just one marauder.
When I plonk myself into my seat I just about jump out of my skin when Slughorn shouts “Sirius Black” over the restarted shrieking of the boy next to me. Oops.
Sitting in the common room at the end of the day, surrounded by my friends, I let myself feel proud of my day of payback. I had planned to only prank Potter but, as it turns out, you can’t do that without causing problems for the group of boys nicknamed the marauders.
“Successful day, Jem?” Leon asks me.
“I’d say so, yeah” I reply, grinning.
“I heard you got Sirius four detentions and lost him thirty points.” True, it earned me quite a few glares from him who seems to be the only one, other than my friends, to work out I cast the spell.
“Yup, and he ain’t pleased about it either.”
“Does he know it was you?” Emily jumps in, worried I might get caught.
“Yeah, I think so, but don’t worry, no one in their right mind would believe him, it’d just sound like he was trying to cover for himself.”
“But if he was covering for himself, wouldn’t he pick a more believable target?” she argues.
“Huh, I didn’t think of that” I admit, if he chose to tell someone, and told them that, there is a small possibility he’d be believed. “But he isn’t a snitch; he’ll probably just try to get me back for it.”
“What?!” Oh, shit. That was the worst thing to say.
“Don’t worry, Em, I’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, no one pranks better than our Jem” Mark says, making me smile. It’s a weird thing to be proud of, I know, but it is a kind of talent. I could be a spy after school, I have enough practice sneaking around and being good at magic can’t hurt either. Better than having some boring desk job in the ministry.
“Yeah!” Leon agrees, bringing my attention back to my circle of friends “you should have seen her in transfiguration, McGonagall didn’t know the counter curse and had to send Lupin to the library for the rest of the day to find it, Pettigrew was lost without his mate’s help and got a ton of homework.”
“It’s like she pranked them all with one spell, brilliant” Mark adds. I could totally be a spy.
“But still, it’s four against one now, what will you do?”
With a slightly evil grin I say, “prank war.”
“No.” Emily states, voice flat. There really is no point arguing against her when she uses that tone, but I have to try. A prank war! that would be so fun, Peeves would be over the moon.
“Aw, but Em, please” I beg, pouting.
“No, you got your revenge, that’s it.”
“But what if they try to get me back?”
“Then you can tell me and I’ll give them a detention, but don’t retaliate.”
“Jem, please, I want you to do this for me.” Now, I am a lot of things. I am smart, confident, devious, sarcastic, flirty and even a little sassy, but more than any of those things, I am a Hufflepuff. And I’m a good friend.
“Okay, I promise.” I say with a sigh, I can’t believe I’m gonna miss out on this one. “But you have to let me prank other people still, or I’ll get cranky, and I’ll annoy you so much you’ll hate me forever and ever and ever and ever and-”
“Okay! I get the point!” Em interrupts, “But you can’t prank the Marauders, I don’t want to scrape you off the floor cause you got caught by a nasty curse. Deal?”
“Deal, love you Em” I say sweetly.
“Yeah, you too, now do your homework.”
“What?! But I was going to the kitchens to grab a cup of tea!” Well, I wasn’t, but homework? No way.
“Fine, but you have to do it when you get back” she says.
With an annoyed groan I stand up from the sofa and head to the door to leave the common room, refusing Mark’s offer to come with me, which I think is probably just him trying to avoid his homework too.
Thanks to one of our great founders, Helga Hufflepuff, my common room was placed a short walk from the kitchens, something I am immensely grateful for. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat mountains or anything, actually I eat next to nothing, but I drink a lot of tea, so having it nearby is helpful, and knowing the passageway that halves the distance isn’t that bad either.
Careful not to get caught out of bed late, I slip down the stairs to the kitchens, following the scent of baking bread. When I reach the last stair I topple back from the weight of one house elf that has thrown herself at me in a hug, her arms tight around my shoulders.
“Hey Puddle” I say, hugging her back then setting her down on the ground again.
“Miss Jemima, Puddle has missed you” she squeaks out, her orb like eyes shining with joy, making me grin. I really love Puddle.
“And Miss Jemima has missed you too, sorry I wasn’t down this weekend, got distracted by a prank.” I apologise while taking her hand and walking to a table to sit with her.
“Who did you prank, Miss” she asks, Puddle has always loved to be mischievous, but you don’t get to do much, being a house elf, so I try to include her in planning my pranks, and I always tell her about them.
“A Gryffindor, boy called James Potter, I used a long lasting charm that only affected him when he was within two metres of me, made him shriek like a little girl.” I say, liking the way Puddle’s face lit up, hearing the story.
“Wow, that’s very clever Miss, Master Daniel would be impressed.”
“Are you kidding?” I blurt, “He’d be furious! I caused so many distractions in lessons.” Puddle is the only person I can talk to about my brother without bursting into tears, with her it feels like he never died at all, like he’s just away for a while. That’s why I can bare to hear her call me Jemima; it feels like it’s him saying it. It feels like home.
“That is true Miss, but it’s still an impressive trick, he’d probably-”
I don’t get to hear what Puddle wanted to say as her small voice is drowned out by a shriek from behind me. Before I can even think, I’ve taken up a protective stance in front of Puddle and my wand is pointed at… thin air. I didn’t imagine that scream, I’m not that tired, someone’s here.
“Well, two can play at that game” I mutter, hugging Puddle against my leg I focus my wand’s energy back towards myself and mutter incantations under my breath, ignoring the suffocating feeling of the spell as a protective bubble surrounds me, blending Puddle’s and my body into the colours of the table behind us, creating the look of invisibility. Or so I hope, I’ve never actually tried this spell before, and it’s ridiculously advanced.
“Holy shit” I hear a voice breathe, then two boys I recognise appear in front of me, far enough away that one of them doesn’t scream again. Potter and Black. I should have known.
“I assume from your impression of a three year old having a tantrum you’ve found the girl” I hear Lupin say as he hops down the stairs and appears in the room, Pettigrew just behind him. “Where is she?” he adds, noticing my absence.
“Well she was there, but now she’s-”
“Gone” Sirius finishes for Potter, staring through me in disbelief.
“How the hell did she do that?” Potter asks, clearly in shock.
“Do what?” Peter squeaks out.
“Disappear” James and Sirius say together.
“Was she with a house elf? Cause they can apparate” Remus says, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a piece of parchment. I lean down to whisper to Puddle to take me back to my dorm but the parchment in Remus’s hand looks like its moving . “Let’s see if we can find her, shall we boys?” Crap. Crap, crap, crap.
“I think we shall” Potter replies, shaking himself out of his stupor to take the parchment and lay it on the table. Leaning forwards slightly, still trying to hold the bubble around me in place, I glance at the parchment and almost topple over in shock. A map! How did I never think of that? And it looks like they’ve found passageways even I don’t know about. And markings for people! Impressive. And inconvenient for me right now.
“Boys, I’ve found her” Sirius says, glancing up from the map to look through me again.
“What? Where?” Potter says; searching the area Sirius was just looking at before adding “Oh, well that’s impressive. She’s here.”
“What? No she isn’t” Peter, says obnoxiously, sure his friends are wrong and he’s right.
Remus, who turns around in his chair to look at my spot says “the map is never wrong, Wormtail.”
Feeling my energy ebbing away, and knowing I may need it for a more offensive reason soon, I lower my wand and drop the bubble. “Nice map” I say, half appreciative of the complex magic, and half annoyed I hadn’t thought of it first.
“Thanks” Lupin says, eyeing my wand cautiously, “Nice trick, what spell was that?”
“Trade secret, sorry” I say, just as guarded as him. After all, I am outnumbered.
“You, you were invisible!” Peter stutters, “you have a cloak too?”
“You have an invisibility cloak? That’s cool” No wonder they snuck up on me. Cheats.
“Wormtail! You idiot!” Sirius shouts, the bark makes me tighten my grip on Puddle, I want her safe.
“What? She has one too, obviously.”
“No, I don’t actually” I say, feeling a tad smug.
“Liar” he spits at me. Gross.
“Don’t you call Miss Jemima a liar!” I hear Puddle’s voice shout as she pushes her way in front of me.
“I’ll call Miss Jemima anything I want, now scram!” he shouts and before I can stop myself my hand brings itself full force across his weasel like face, hard enough to make his beady eyes fill up with tears.
“Don’t you dare talk to her like that” I spit out, my hands bunched into fists at my sides.
I’m dragged away from Peter and pushed onto a bench by Sirius and Remus who then take positions either side of me, whether to threaten me or to protect Peter I can’t decide.
“People don’t hurt my friends” I hear Black growl from my left and I look boldly back.
“Nor do they insult mine” I shoot back.
“You’re friends with a house elf?” Lupin asks in a much kinder voice.
“Yeah, she’s my elf, is that okay with you?” I ask, thoroughly pissed off. All I wanted was a cup of tea and a chat, and I end up in some miniature war.
“Please leave Miss Jemima, sirs, she’s just tired, please sirs” I hear a squeak from a few steps away, it just about breaks my heart and I open my arms towards her, wanting to have her near me. She climbs into my lap without hesitation and I begin stroking her head to sooth her.
“Why does she call you that? I thought you didn’t like it?” Potter asks in a slightly guilty voice, nervous to bring it up I’d guess.
“She was my brother’s elf, I’d never tell her to call me anything else” I say, still holding Puddle to my chest.
“What happened to him?” Remus asks, making me tear up. Don’t cry in front of them, I tell myself.
“He was killed” I say shortly, not letting my thoughts linger on it. Time to be brave.
James steps forward to rest a hand on my shoulder but before he can reach me he screams and falls backwards onto Peter, knocking him flat on his back and making everyone but him burst into laughter. Even Puddle.
“How? Just how?” Remus asks me, his eyes alight. “I’ve been in the library since third period, thanks for that by the way, and found nothing.”
“I’m not surprised, I combined two spells to create it, it’s basically a long lasting version of the singing charm with a higher frequency and a trigger charm so it’s controlled to work only within two meters of me, the caster.” I explain to him, knowing he’ll understand it, being skilled in charms.
“Ingenious” he breathes and I feel myself blush a little. No one has said that kind of thing to me, not since Daniel. “But, if it’s long lasting, how do you cancel out the affects?”
I consider lying to him, I could leave the charm on, but I had promised to calm things down with this group so I try to order my explanation into an understandable sentence.
“Well, I put a weak point into the spell, so I could stop it when I wanted to. Basically, the closer he gets to me, the louder he’ll scream, if he actually touches me though, the frequency gets so high he can’t hold it, so it shorts out. That means the spell has broken and wont restart unless its recast.”
“What?” James asks but I ignore him.
“Look” I hoist Puddle onto my hip as I stand up to walk toward Potter, cradling her against my side as I would a toddler. He quickly begins screaming but I keep walking towards him and place my hand onto his shoulder, when I make contact with his skin there the screaming cuts itself off and he clutches at his throat in surprise.
“Thanks” he croaks out.
“No bother” I reply, turning away from the four boys and heading towards the exit.
“Wait!” Sirius shouts to my retreating form, sounding annoyed, but I ignore him. I want to go to sleep.
I sense the spell before he’s even cast it and spin around, wand in hand to meet him with the counter curse in an instant.
“I wouldn’t if I was you, I know how to duel, and you haven’t got a chance, so just don’t” I say slowly, lacing my voice with a threatening tone.
His scowl made his handsome face the closest to ugly it could be, which, if I’m honest, wasn’t very close. The annoying ones were always the hottest. Sad really.
“I was right, feisty. You could be a Gryffindor” he says, with a hint of a smirk.
“Yeah, that’s what the hat said” I admit “and I bet it told you you’d make a good Hufflepuff.”
“How did you?-”he starts. Guess I was right.
“You’re loyal to your friends. That’s a Hufflepuff quality. The house qualities merge a lot more than you’d think, I’m brave cause I want to protect my friends. Weird right. Now can I leave without another curse being thrown at my back? Cause invisibility charms are tiring and I want to sleep.”
“Yeah, but you can expect to see us again.” He says with a lazy grin.
“We’d like to see what other spells that brain of yours can come up with, it could be useful in our plotting” Potter adds.
“Brilliant” I say, deadpan. As I climb the stairs out of the kitchens, Puddle sleeping on my hip, I hear their laughs echo around me and realise I may not want to be invisible anymore. Causing trouble sounds like more fun.
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