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Author's Note: Hope everyone's still enjoying the story! Sorry the chapter took so long in coming - I'll do better in the future =]

Everyone was finally assembled in the Great Hall, one big, chattering clump that was obviously annoying McGonagall. With her most pointed strides, she marched over to her podium and stared out menacingly at us all. “Ahem,” she cleared her throat, before putting her wand to it and maximizing her voice. “Students!”

The quiet chatter ceased instantly, as we all caught sight of her narrowed eyes. Curious and subdued, everyone stared up expectantly at the teachers’ table.

“Much better, thank you." Always one to get straight to the point, she continued, "I have called you all here to discuss a matter of great importance."

“The Ministry was attacked by flying utensils!” Alex yelled from beside me.

I smothered my laughter into the sleeve of my jumper, but that only succeeded in making me suffocate, so I had to take several large, gasping breaths. All in all, not such a pretty scene.

Minnie glowered in our direction. “No, Mr. Eckersley, I’m very glad to say that the Ministry has not been attacked. And it is not a snorting matter at all."

I blushed a most flattering shade of crimson, that I'm sure clashed obstrusively with my scarlet sweater.

Letting her burning gaze flit over the other students, she began again. "What I have called you all here to discuss is a problem within our very school. On the first night back, someone – or, most likely, some group – played an abominable prank on the Slytherin Common Room.”

There was dead silence. And I mean completely dead. Avada Kedavra dead. I could feel my eyes get very wide as I stared blankly across the table at Luke. She was on to us - Minnie was talking about our prank!

“Whoever did this has done the Slytherin House a great disrespect. I know some of you-” here she paused and glared menacingly in our direction, “always take pleasure in creating trouble on the first day back. We don’t have any evidence to convict the pranksters as of yet but I hope that, whoever you are, you are properly shamed by your actions, and will confess at your first opportunity.”

"Yeah, right," Eddie whispered almost inaudibly. I still have yet to understand why they picked him as a Prefect...

A whisper ran through the assembly as everyone conferred about who they thought it was. Most likely everyone thought it was us. Merlin knows the four of us have played enough pranks for people to know for sure it was us.

“We will be investigating the matter further, rest assured. Dismissed!”

As the four of us made our way out of the Great Hall to our next class, I couldn’t resist laughing a little. “It’s like this every year,” I whispered, not wanting anyone to hear me and rat us out.

"Except that this is the hugest one we've ever pulled!" Luke exclaimed, his soft tone matching mine.

“I’m surprised she hasn’t flat out convicted us,” Eddie replied. “I mean, doesn’t everyone know it was us?”

Before any of us could respond, a yell came from behind us. “Potter, stop right there.”

I spun around to find Kat facing us, staring up at me angrily.

“What’d I do this time?” I inquired pleasantly.

“The Headmistress would like to see you four in her office immediately.”

“Now? But I’ll miss Herbology,” I whined.

“Don’t pretend you care,” she replied bitingly, her blue eyes sharp. “Everyone knows it was you who pulled the prank.”

“Come on, Willoughby, don’t the Slytherins deserve it?” Luke’s eyes sparkled playfully.

For a moment, I thought I saw Kat’s eyes soften. “Merlin knows the Slytherins deserve everything they get.” But then they were back to their usual fierceness, making me wonder if I had imagined it. “You’d better go see McGonagall before she blows a blood vessel. Watch what you say to her, she’s really mad about this one.”

“Thanks for the warning, babe,” I answered, smiling to myself as she rolled her eyes at me and stalked off up the hallway.

Most wizarding children like to say that they have two homes: their actual house, off in the country somewhere, and here, Hogwarts. I, however, like the lucky little bloke I am, get to say I have three: 12 Grimmauld Place, Hogwarts, and McGonagall’s office. Seriously, I spend more time in there than I do in my own dorm room.

Anyways, as the four of us rode the spinning stairs up to the main office room, I wondered how mad Minnie really was. I mean, yeah, she did have very low tolerance for me and my mates but was she as angry as Kat had said? I hoped not. I did have charm, but not nearly enough to win over Minnie. Charm didn’t seem to work on her.

The door slid open and we stepped out into the dim light of the office, me first, followed by Eddie, Luke, and then Alex, cowering in the back. He has a severe fright of authority figures.

McGonagall’s back was facing us as we approached her desk; she was looking out the window at some dot on the ground below. But as we shuffled our feet nervously, she turned slowly towards us and I nearly gasped with fright.

You see, our Headmistress’s face has a very unique quality: it always takes the form of one of three faces. The first face, which she wears most often, is simply the day-to-day exasperation. The second face is the one she uses every time she talks to me or my mates, a look of dumbfounded displeasure. But the third and most rare face is the scariest of all. The third face is absolute infuriation.

This third face is reserved strictly for times when she is so angry she doesn’t know what else to do with her face. Even us – the mastermind pranksters of Hogwarts – have to do something really terrible to deserve that face. And now, she was wearing it. It made me want to wet my trousers.

“Gentlemen,” she began, her voice especially severe, “I hope you know why you have been called here today.”

Gathering from the fact that she had on face number three, I decided it wasn’t the time for smart backtalk. It was time to turn the charm on full blast. “I’m afraid we don’t, Headmistress. Would you mind telling us?”

“Do not try to charm me, Mr. Potter. I am in no mood for your foolishness.”

I gulped – what was it with all these people, were they all Legilimens?

“I know it was the four of you who destroyed the Slytherin Common Room.”

“Destroyed? Don’t you think that’s a bit extreme,” Eddie asked, obviously not recognizing face number three.

“No, Mr. Bryant, I do not think that is extreme.” Her lips became such a thin line that they practically disappeared. “Not only did you break into another House’s Common Room, but you locked their brooms in the cupboard, hexed all of the mirrors, and made the stairs unusable! As if that was not enough, you set off fireworks – Weasley Wizarding Wheeze fireworks, which, may I remind you, are banned articles – in the middle of the room. Have you no shame?”

Merlin, it really wasn’t as bad as she was making it out to be - we were just having a bit of fun!

“Headmistress, why do you think it was us?” Luke asked, putting on his best innocent face.

“That is the problem, Mr. Tomlinson. I believe it was you, but I have no proof. I feel it would be unfair to punish you on a mere conclusion. However, if I find the slightest piece of evidence that convicts you, you will be banned from Hogsmeade trips, and given more detention than you have had the past six years combined. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Headmistress,” we all mumbled together.

“Very well, you may go.” She turned back to the window. “I hope you know how disappointed I am.”

Relieved she was done, the four of us scrambled back to the staircase and made for the safety of the hallway outside.

“Merlin, was she buggered!” Eddie exclaimed the moment we were out of her office.

“We’d better hope she doesn’t find any evidence, or we’re screwed,” Luke added stuffing his hands in his pockets.

“Come on, mates, it wouldn’t be that bad. We can handle getting in trouble,” I encouraged them.

“All the same, I’d just as soon be out of detention as in.”

“Well, I guess we’ll see you two later,” Alex said, walking off down a different hallway with Eddie, going to their NEWT level Divination.

“I don’t know why you’re all so worked up about this,” I repeated, shaking my head.

“A dead man can’t date Gloria.” Luke laughed a little at his own joke.

His words reminded me of my worries down at the Lake that morning and, in most un-me-like fasion, I decided to talk to him about it. “Hey, Luke, you know how we’re all going to Hogsmeade together?”

“Sure, what about it?”

“It’s just – well, you said you were going on a date.”

“And I am,” he pointed out.

“Yeah, but you could have been a little nicer the way you said it.” I didn’t really know why I brought it up, or why it bothered me so much that Luke had been callous about it. It was strange actually, the way I was correcting him. Usually it was someone else having to tell me I was being tactless.

“Who cares how I say it?” he inquired.

“Steff cared.”

“Steff?” Luke repeated, before suddenly seeming to understand. “You think it bothered her?”

“Didn’t you notice how strange she looked after you said you couldn’t come?” I inquired.

“So are you saying I shouldn’t go out with Gloria because Steff’s jealous?”

“No, mate, go out with Gloria if you want to. Just don’t be so, erm, obvious about it.”

Luke gave a helpless shrug. “I’ll try. I wouldn’t have done it if I had realized.”

“I know, just thought I should say something.”

Both a little surprised by the seriousness of our conversation, we walked the rest of the way to the greenhouse in silence.

Herbology had always been a pretty boring subject, at least for me. Who really cares about the properties of a stewed mandrake, I always say. I was only still in the class because it was easy, compared to my NEWT level Potions, Defense, and Charms.

Professor Lovegood, on the other hand, clearly enjoyed the subject. I never saw a professor get so excited about her subject, until I had her as a teacher.

Luna Lovegood was a friend of my parents, so I knew her pretty well. She often came to our dinner parties, at which she wandered around our house in a rather aimless manner. But she was a good teacher and I liked her for it, even if her subject was boring.

Today, it seemed, we were battling Venomous Tentacula. It felt as if every year we were required to do this at least once, although Merlin only knows why! As Luke and I entered the greenhouse, we could hear the rustling of supplies in our wooden trenches as everyone prepared for the wrestling ahead.

“Ah, there you are, boys,” Professor Lovegood trilled in her dreamy voice. “Where have you been?”

I threw a look over at Kat, who, even though she had known where we were, clearly hadn’t told the Professor.

“I’m sorry, Professor, I meant to tell you. They were with the Headmistress,” Kat spoke up, tossing the look right back at me.

“Very well. As you notice, we are removing Snargaluff pods from tentaculas today. Luke, please join DeAndra’s group over there, and James, you may join Kat’s.”

I gulped. Just my luck, I ended up with Kat while Luke got to be with DeAndra Wilkes! Dropping my books against the wall, I trudged over to the indicated table and slouched down in a chair.

“No need to look so unhappy about it, Potter. I don’t like it any better than you.”

As I gave Kat a disdainful look, someone else approached our table.

“Hey, mind if I join your group?” A gruff, deep voice filled the air and I tore my gaze from Kat’s face to look up and find Schaffer standing on the opposite side of the table.

“Sure, we’ve still got a spot,” Kat said sweetly.

Sweetly? Why did Kat say it sweetly? I thought she was above liking guys. Clearly she wasn’t above liking jerks like Schaffer…

“Brilliant, thanks.” The disgustingly broad-shouldered Quidditch Captain took a seat on the other side of the table, with me opposite him, and Kat on the end.

“Right now, students, don’t forget your gloves! This is dangerous work and I’d like you all to leave with as many fingers as you came.” Professor Lovegood’s voice floated towards us and the three of us pulled on our gloves, just as interested in keeping our phalanges in place as she was.

I picked up my half-pliers, half-pinchers object from the side table and poked delicately at the side of the Tentacula.

“Potter!” screeched Kat. “Don’t touch it!”

Startled by her yell, I dropped the pincers on the ground with a resounding clatter, drawing the stares of everyone in the classroom.

“James, are you having a problem with your Tentacula?” Professor Lovegood inquired kindly.

“No,” I grumped, giving Kat a dirty look. “No, I’m just fine.”

Luna sighed, used to my oddity. "Very well. Students, you may begin!”

Still sullen, I crossed my arms and watched as Kat and Schaffer pulled on their gloves, then reluctantly picked up my pincers from the floor and jabbed half-heartedly at the side of the Tentacula again.

“Now,” Kat began, taking charge, “Jason, you grab that branch, and James, you take the other.”

Puzzled, I gave her a look. “You called me James!”


“Never mind.” Quietly, I took hold of the branches and tugged them away from the center of the plant.

Taking a deep breath, Kat pulled her gloves up and prepared to plunge into the hole of the stump.

“Wait!” I was as surprised to hear my voice as I was to hear Schaffer’s.

Confused, Kat raised her eyebrows at us both. “What is it?”

I shot a look at Schaffer, knowing he had spoken for the same reason I had. I gulped. “Why don’t you let me do that?”

Schaffer shot me a very dirty look. “No, let me.”

“Uh, I’m perfectly fine, thank you." Kat looked extremely puzzled, yet, if truth be told, a bit flattered.

“No, really, I can take care of it,” I repeated, moving closer to Kat.

“Don’t listen to him, let me do it, babe.”

Kat frowned. “I don’t know where all this chivalry is coming from, but I really think I can handle it.”

Professor Lovegood drifted past our table. “Is there an issue here?”

“No, Professor, I was just about to go in for the pods,” Kat informed our teacher with a smile, giving Schaffer and me an inquisitive look. Without saying another word, she thrust both of her gloved hands straight into the stump of the Tentacula.

As Kat focused on the slippery, green pods in the stump, Schaffer and I glared at each other over her head.

“You’re going down,” he mouthed.

I couldn’t think of a comeback short enough to mouth back at him so I cocked my head to the side in a menacing manner.

We were both so intent on staring each other down that we didn’t hear Kat in the background.

“Oi! Potter, Schaffer! Boys!”

I snapped my head to the side, finally hearing her.

“Can someone help me here?” Her blue eyes flashed in annoyance as she handed us each a pulsing green Snargaluff pod.

I set my pod down in the tray on my right and I glanced over at the table where Luke sat with DeAndra and another Ravenclaw. He caught my eye and gave Schaffer’s back a dirty look.

I grinned at him and winked in the direction of DeAndra.

He put up his hands as if to protest innocence. We both knew that DeAndra was fully Eddie’s, even if she was pretty hot. Besides, I knew now that Kat was the only girl I really liked. Now if I could just get her to stop hating me...

I wondered, for a moment, why DeAndra and Schaffer weren’t sitting together. Maybe their fight was even worse than it had sounded. It was too bad Eddie had to be a Prefect or he could’ve had her already!

As I thought about it, plans began to take form in my head. There were so many things I had to fix right now: Rose and Al’s fight, Eddie’s Prefect problem, slaughtering Malfoy, showing Kat I wasn’t a jerk. I didn’t even know where to begin. I decided that it was time to call an official meeting, to organize the mess in my head. And what better time than midnight?

Author's Note: Hope you all liked this chapter - please leave a review, I'd really appreciate it. Favorite quotes, as always, please ;) Next chapter should be up soon (and may quite possibly contain some very intriguing Kat/James interaction...)

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