- Chapter Twelve -
They spent the rest of the evening plotting ways to wreak their revenge. As the evening ticked by, more and more students left the common room and headed for bed until, at last, it was just the four boys and some seventh-years left.
"I can't find anything in here that's suitable for a first-year," sighed James, tossing aside 'Curses and Counter Curses' by Professor Vindictus Viridian. It landed lopsided on the growing heap of other books they'd tried.
"This book is about defensive magic," said Remus, turning a page of 'Practical Defensive Magic and its Uses Against the Dark Arts' with a sigh. "Except it's aimed at N.E.W.T. students." He paused suddenly. "Hang, on, there's information on patronuses in here!"
"And why would we want to know about patronuses?" asked Sirius in a bored voice.
Remus blushed. "Er, we don't," he admitted, closing the book and, still glancing at it, putting it aside. "I just think they're interesting."
Peter looked confused. "What's a patronus?" he asked, looking from Remus to the book and back again.
Remus followed his gaze. "It's a kind of shield," he said, "between a wizard and a dementor. A way of stopping your happy memories from being sucked out."
But only one word of this seemed to have registered with Peter. "Dementor?" he squeaked, looking around as though expecting to see one lurking in a corner.
"Don't worry, Peter," said James calmly. "Dementors are only allowed to guard Azkaban and, as that's a prison, it's miles away." He turned to Remus. "Can you cast one?"
Remus looked at him in surprise. "A patronus?"
"No, of course not! That's incredibly advanced magic... Even fully-grown wizards have trouble with that spell."
Sirius was busy leafing through another book. "Oi, you lot! I think I've found something."
"What?" The other three turned to him eagerly.
Sirius showed them the book. "Look. It's a dancing-feet spell. It forces the person to tap dance... And it says it's not advanced."
James sat up very straight. "Ooh," he grinned. "I like the sound of this. Go on. What's your plan?"
"Well, it'd be an interesting spell to perform in the Great Hall at breakfast tomorrow," said Sirius slowly. A very wicked glint was starting to creep into his grey eyes. "Especially when everyone's watching..."
At these words, James' whole face lit up. "It's embarrassing, it's a spell Snivellus doesn't know and it's amusing!" he said. He laughed to himself and pulled the book out of his friend's hands. "What more could we want?"
Peter was looking doubtful. "If we do it in front of everyone," he began. "Won't it be really obvious that we were the ones that did it? I mean-"
"You don't have to come," Sirius told him, folding his arms and staring at Peter. "You can sit well away from us, if you like, and just watch."
Peter flushed. He didn't want to miss the action but, at the same time... He deflated under the glares of Sirius and James. "I- I guess... I guess I'll come."
Remus looked at him. "We're not making you," he said gently. "But if you want to come, you're perfectly welcome to-"
James put the book aside and addressed Remus. "You're joining in, then?" he asked, surprised.
Remus fidgeted and looked at the floor. "Of course, if you don't want me to help, I won't. I just thought-"
"Are you mad? Of course we want you to stay with us! I just didn't think you'd want to," said James, shaking his head. "I thought you'd be worried about getting in trouble."
"So did I," muttered Sirius. He nudged Remus playfully. "Mr Oh-No-We're-Going-To-Be-Late Lupin."
Remus smiled. "I'll come then," he said. "But first-" he picked up the book again and turned back to the page they'd been looking at "-we need to learn the spell."
Peter leaned over. "How do we do that?" he asked. "We haven't done any magic yet."
Sirius smirked. "How fitting that our first spell is going to be a prank," he said. "I feel like a rebel."
The other three laughed.
"Sirius, your whole family is in Slytherin," James reminded him. "And you're in Gryffindor. I don't think you can get more rebellious than that."
"Not in my parents' eyes, anyway," he agreed.
"So how do we learn the spell?" Peter prompted, gesturing to the book. "What're we supposed to do?"
Remus traced the diagram, which bore instructions on how to cast the jinx, as well as its effects. "It says we have to say 'Tarantallegra' and point our wands at the person's legs," he said. "It also gives us some tips for getting it right first try. Look."
Sirius skim-read the paragraph, then glanced at the diagram. "Looks simple enough," he said lazily, leaning back against the common room wall, with his legs stretched out in front of him.
"No, it doesn't," said Peter worriedly.
James patted him on the shoulder. "Yeah, it does, Pete," he assured him. "And it can't exactly go too wrong, can it? I mean, what's the worst that could happen?"
"The whole room explodes?" suggested Remus with a shrug.
James grinned. "Exactly. And that's hardly a disaster."
"I think you and I have very different ideas about what classifies as 'a disaster', James," said Remus.
"Yeah, I'd rather not create a giant explosion on my second day at Hogwarts," said Peter.
Remus smiled dryly. "It might set the bar quite high."
Peter laughed, the sound mingling with Sirius' yawn.
"Can we go to bed now?" Sirius asked, stretching and getting to his feet. "I mean, I don't know about you but, if we're going to do this prank, we need some sleep."
"Fair enough," said James. "Come on, we might have to wake up early tomorrow."
Sirius groaned. "I'm starting to think this prank is a bad idea. I hate waking up early."
"Oh, come on, mate! You were the one that suggested the plan in the first place," James told him as they climbed the stairs to their dormitory.
Frank was already asleep in the bed nearest to the door.
They pulled on their pyjamas and climbed into bed, still whispering to each other about the spell they were going to use.
James fell asleep thinking triumphantly about the look on Snape's face when he started to dance tomorrow.
Breakfast the next morning was a very exciting affair for Peter, James, Remus and Sirius. They left the dormitory in a flurry of laughter and anticipation, wands hidden inside their robes.
Peter's face was ever so slightly green, although he would never have admitted it.
Remus too was feeling slightly nervous. Unlike Peter, however, he remained composed and accepted his part willingly.
Even if a tiny part of him did dread getting into trouble.
"Remember the incantation," James told Sirius, as they passed a group of Hufflepuffs on their way into the Great Hall. "It's tarantallegra. And you'll need to get a nice aim, too, or it won't work and you'll just look stupid-"
"Thanks for the support, mate," said Sirius sarcastically. They had decided that he would be the one to cast the spell, with James as a backup if necessary. "It's so nice to hear your words of comfort."
James grinned sheepishly. "Sorry," he said. "I just want this to go right."
"You cast the spell, then, if you're so bothered," grumbled Sirius. But he was secretly quite pleased that he had been chosen over the others. "Hey, there's Snivelly!"
The other three looked.
Snape was walking down the aisle between the Slytherin and Ravenclaw tables, with Lily Evans at his side. They were both deep in discussion and looked back over their shoulders when they were forced to part.
Lily sat down at the Gryffindor table, next to Frank and Alice, opposite a couple of other first-year girls that James didn't know.
He glanced at Sirius. "Shall we do it now? Before Snivellus sits with the rest of his house?"
Sirius nodded and pulled his wand from inside his robes. He was gripping it so hard that his knuckles were white. "Yeah. Sure thing." He watched Snape approach the wall of green and silver that was the Slytherin table. "C'mon."
The four boys strode, with James and Sirius in the lead, towards the place where Snape stood. Peter and Remus trailed a little behind, not entirely certain what to do with themselves.
Peter was gnawing his lip so hard that it had begun to bleed. He didn't think this was a good idea. If the spell went right, everything would be fine. But if it went wrong...
And there were so many things that could go wrong.
"Oi, Snivellus!" James called, once Snape was within earshot.
At least half the hall turned to look at them.
Snape had paused right beside the Slytherin table and was looking at James with obvious disgust.
"Did you run out of shampoo this morning? Because your hair looks like it could do with a wash."
A couple of people watching sniggered.
Snape flushed deeply. "Shut up, Potter. I do not need a wash."
Sirius, grinning broadly, nudged James. "You're right, Snivelly. You don't need a wash. You need at least four if you ask me."
Several more sniggers ran through the hall.
Severus Snape's face was now an ugly shade of beet red. He balled his fists by his sides and glared at the four boys. "How dare you, Black!"
"Truth hurts," retorted Sirius, his eyes burning with malicious hatred. "Now, we have something to say to you."
Sneering slightly, Snape glanced down at the wand clutched in Sirius' outstretched hand. He took a step back, however, when he saw what it was aimed at. "Oh, yeah? And what's that?"
"Ready?" James whispered to Sirius.
Behind the other two, Remus shifted uncomfortably.
Peter sucked his bleeding lip.
"Just one word," said Sirius quietly. The whole hall was watching him now, even the teachers. Thankfully, however, strict Professor McGonagall wasn't present.
Nor was Dumbledore.
Trying to keep his hand steady, Sirius pointed his wand at Snape's legs and cried, "Tarantallegra!"
There was a deafening bang, and several people screamed.
Peter yelled and jumped backwards, dragging Remus with him.
Instead of being forced into a tap dance, Severus was thrown backwards into some Slytherin fourth-years, who swore as he landed on top of them.
Sirius glanced down at his wand in horror. Why hadn't the spell worked?
True, they hadn't practised it beforehand, but it wasn't that complicated, surely? The book had said that it was suitable for first-years...
Beside Sirius, James took a step forwards, ready to cast the spell himself. But Remus grabbed his arm.
"No, don't," he hissed. "It might go even more wrong. Anyway, it'll look stupid if you try it a second time. Just act like you meant to do it and no one will notice."
James nodded and lowered his wand. "All right. Fair enough. I guess we've-"
A blonde Slytherin prefect had stood up and moved in front of them.
"Well, well, well," sneered the drawling voice of the blonde-haired boy. His narrow, pointed features were twisted with spite. "If it isn't little Sirius Black and a group of his pathetic first-year friends."
Sirius glared at him. "Shove off, Malfoy!"
"Watch your language, Black, or you might find yourself in detention. You see, I - unlike you - am a prefect and I have the power to strip you of certain-"
"We all know what you can and can't do, you big-headed git," snarled Sirus, not afraid of Malfoy in the slightest.
Lucius Malfoy's voice suddenly became deadly cold. "Don't you dare address me like that, Black. You should be ashamed of the way you've turned out." He turned to take in James, Remus and Peter, who were standing there frozen.
His lip curled.
Sirius stood his ground.
"You know, I would've thought that even you would know better than to hang around with riff-raff like this. The Potters are almost blood-traitors, the way they behave. And your other friends..." Malfoy's cold eyes lingered on Peter's trembling form and Remus' scarred face. "Your other friends can hardly be any better, can they?"
"Be quiet," said James softly, glaring at Malfoy with the same hatred he'd shown Snape. "You're just a-"
"Careful, Potter, or I really will give you detention."
Unable to contain himself, Remus snorted.
Malfoy's gaze fell on him. "Think my status is funny, do you?" he whispered nastily. He looked Remus up and down. "And who are you? Some unworthy brat of a muggle?"
Remus took a step forwards. He should have been terrified, but he wasn't. "So what if I am? My father works for the Ministry."
"Wait a second..." Lucius' eyes narrowed as he did some serious thinking. "I know who you are. You're Lyall Lupin's son, aren't you? He works in the Beast department. Trying to protect the filth that litters the wizarding world, like Mudbloods and vampires and werewolves-"
"Pardon?" Remus raised an eyebrow. "Did you just include muggleborns in that list?"
Malfoy smirked. "Of course I did. Why wouldn't I? But, of course, your mother's a muggle, isn't she? I suppose you're a muggle-lover like the rest of the wizarding world? Wasting your time trying to teach wizards that scum is acceptable-"
"Malfoy," said Remus very quietly. "I suggest you stop talking now, or I'll-" He broke off mid-sentence.
"Go on," said Malfoy, looking delighted. "Going to duel me, are you, you brainless first-year? All right, but I can't guarantee you'll survive it, I'm afraid."
He raised his wand and pointed it at Remus, at the same time as James and Sirius stepped in front of him...
The next thing anyone knew, Lucius Malfoy was flying through the air. He landed with a loud thump several meters away, his sleek blonde hair falling all over his face.
There was a very stunned silence.
Remus Lupin stood there with his arm outstretched, his wand pointing straight at Malfoy.
James, Sirius and Peter all stared at him.
So did Malfoy.
Very calmly, not taking his eyes off the crumpled figure in front of him, Remus tucked his wand back into his robes and pushed a strand of brown hair out of his eyes. He didn't seem at all perturbed by what had just happened.
Even though the rest of the Great Hall was in shock.
"What did you-" began James. But before he could get any further, there was a loud clucking noise and he looked back to see Malfoy lying on the ground, covered in feathers and chicken excrement.
The spell seemed to have kicked in properly.
I had fun writing this chapter, but it might be a little confusing in places. Please let me know if it is :)
If you have any more prank ideas, feel free to suggest them. I need as many as I can get; I've got seven years of mischief to write!
Also, if you'd like to read the full version of Remus' parents' backstory, the book is called 'Setting of the Moon' and it's in my profile. :)
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