Chapter 1: Cottingley Fairies
"There are only two styles of portrait painting, the serious and the smirk" - Charles Dickens
Sirius convinced the Aurors that if he was a potential suspect, so was Peter Pettigrew. Time proved that Pettigrew had the Mark and that Sirius did not. That, and the fact that Bellatrix had laughed herself sick when asked about Sirius, was enough for the Wizengamot. Peter was shipped off to Azkaban and Sirius Black was a free man.
He stalled for a while, planning to wait out Dumbledore's watch on him. He searched out all possible foster families in the Wizarding world, hunting for his godson before turning to the Muggle world.
First stop, Petunia Dursley. After ascertaining that she did indeed hold custody of Harry and waiting a little bit longer, he showed up on her doorstep.
He didn't really think this would work—and sincerely hoped it wouldn't, but he really wanted to raise his godson. He owed it to Harry and his parents to try.
Sirius knocked on the door and Vernon Dursley answered the door. He stared for a heartbeat at Sirius' blue robes and slammed the door shut, yelling something about freaks.
Sirius Black was very nearly at the end of his tether when it came to waiting, but he bore it as he knocked again.
He heard a muffled yell of, "Go AWAY!"
Sirius sighed. "I wish to speak to you about your nephew. I would like to take him in."
Vernon cracked the door open at that and gestured him inside after studying him for a moment. "Get in here! Can't have the neighbors think we're entertaining lunatics."
Sirius complied and followed the man into the kitchen where Petunia stood. She glanced at his robe as well, and glared icily at him, "Isn't enough I have one of your kind living under my roof? Apparently not! You lot keep showing up!"
Mmm yes, he would be taking Harry away from here, come hell or high water. "I'm Harry's godfather and I would like to take him in," Sirius said tersely.
Petunia stared at him hard, eventually asking, "How do I know you're his godfather?"
"Harry has a small, circular birthmark on the inside of his left ankle," Sirius replied promptly. For the brief time he had been able to spend with Harry so far—mostly when he had been made the boy's godfather—he had done everything from dress the baby to put him to sleep, so he knew the mark was there.
Petunia made her way out of the kitchen and Sirius turned to watch her; the woman opened a cupboard door and entered. Sleepy coos echoed out of the small room and it took every ounce of self control—of which he had precious little left—not to strangle Petunia. He was absolutely livid that a child—his godson no less!—was being kept in a cupboard under the stairs.
She returned with Harry, holding him under his arms so that his feet dangled in the air. She held him away from herself, as if she didn't want to touch him. Petunia dumped Harry into his arms. "Get out."
Sirius cradled his cooing, wide-eyed godson, resisting the urge to scream at her. He took a deep breath, trying to reign in his temper, "I trust this will remain confidential? You will not alert Dumbledore?"
"No, we will not," Petunia said coldly.
"If we did, he'd likely dump the brat here again," Vernon spat. "Now, get the hell out of my house!"
Sirius jerked his head in a nod, turned on his heel, and left.
It was months before anyone heard from Sirius (Remus being the first one), and years before anybody thought to check in on Harry. By then, it was far too late and Harry had been thoroughly Marauderized.
Dumbledore managed to force Harry back to Privet Drive once when he was nine, but after Harry mocked Dudley until the boy cried, Petunia and Vernon packed the boy up and drove him back to Sirius's home, refusing to take him in ever again.
"I will not have that abomination in my house again!" Vernon yelled as he flung the car door open.
Petunia cradled a fat, sobbing beach ball of child in her lap as they sat in the back seat of the car. She was murmuring to her enormous son, who sniffled pathetically and rubbed his runny nose on her blouse. She didn't seem to mind.
Dumbledore, out of options, surrendered as the car sped up the dirt road in the Cornish hill country, dirt and dust flying behind it as it careened around the snake road.
Harry looked up at Dumbledore as he turned around to look at the boy. "What? He sneezed on me, and his fat jiggled for seriously, like, a minute." Harry wrinkled his nose, "I was only pointing out the truth, Professor," he said, looking up at the Headmaster innocently from where he stood next to his godfather on the dusty path that lead to Sirius's cottage. "The enormous truth."
That rather ruined it for the Headmaster, though Dumbledore hadn't believed the child was innocent anyway. He had been raised by the two remaining Marauders after all—if the boy was truly a naïf and not a hell raiser, Dumbledore would eat his hat.
Harry continued to look at the old man, looking for all the world like a black haired angle that had dropped out of a cathedral painting. He flashed a Sirius grin at the Headmaster when he sighed wearily. Dumbledore felt a moment of immense pity for Severus. This child was wily and charming, and would have everyone but Argus and Severus wrapped around his little finger with one wide-eyed look and an innocent smile. Severus was going to be in so much trouble when this Marauder came to Hogwarts.
Sirius hugged his godson as Dumbledore left. Oh how he looked forward to unleashing his little hellion on Snape when he got to school! That would be the stuff of legends!
Chapter 2: The Musendrophilus
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"In 1975 the famous naturalist David Attenborough reported on BBC Radio 3 about a group of islands in the Pacific known as the Sheba Islands. He played sound recordings of the island's fauna, including a recording of an alleged night-singing tree mouse called the Musendrophilus."
October ninth, 1989 dawned clear, crisp, and cool, the liquid gold of the newborn sun gilding a small hillside cottage in Cornwall, which was surrounded by a small wood on one side with an open view of the ocean on the other. Ruby and amber leaves shook free of their trees and drifted in piles against the house, rustling and hissing as the breeze shuffled them closer to the wall. Birds chirped in the trees on the edge of the wood, and a timid doe grazed cautiously in the back garden.
A Comanche yell broke the golden morning, and Sirius Black was rudely woken up by an excited nine year old boy jumping on his bed.
Sleep fuzzed and extremely annoyed, Sirius reached blindly for his godson and yanked him down against his side. "Shuddup, Harry. 'S, like, six. Go back t' sleep," he groused sleepily into Harry's hair.
The boy wiggled free, staring with irritation at Sirius, "Paaaaaadfoot! Come on," he tugged at Sirius's shoulder as he knelt on the bed, "I want go to Diagon!"
Sirius blearily looked up at Harry, "'S my birthday and I wanna sleep!" Sirius nestled down further into his nest of blankets and yawned, "We'll go later, when Moony get here." Harry didn't protest, so Sirius closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep.
Staring at his godfather, Harry pursed his lips in Remus's I'm-going-to-get-you-and-you-will-not-like-it expression before slipping off the bed and out of the room.
A few hours later, feeling much more human, Sirius made his way into the kitchen, where Harry sat. Harry usually had at least a grin of the "I've hid all your socks" order on his face, but this morning he looked suspiciously innocent.
"All right, what did you do?" Sirius asked, folding his arms and stopping in the middle of the sunlit kitchen. He stared at Harry expectantly, tapping his foot on the tile.
The boy looked at him, "Can't a lad sit and eat his cereal without unfounded accusations being thrown at him?" Harry asked, scooping up a spoonful of his cheerios.
"I haven't accused you of anything. Yet," Sirius amended, "But you, my boy, are looking entirely too innocent this morning. Therefore, you did something. Spill it."
"Did not," Harry protested around a mouth of cereal. Milk dribbled down his chin.
"That's uncouth, Harry," Sirius looked disgusted. "Swallow and then deny all involvement!" he grabbed a dish towel off the nearest counter and held it out.
The boy accepted the cloth and obliged, "Sorry," he said.
Sirius patted his head and moved to make tea and toast while Harry gloated over wriggling out of answering his godfather. As Sirius was fixing his tea the way he liked it (sweet as sin with just a little milk), his toast popped out of the Magi-Toaster 1500, looking like it had gotten in the way of an annoyed dragon.
The slices of black toast made crispy, scraping noises as they dropped back in the bread slots. Sirius shot a look at Harry, who was currently occupied with chasing the few remaining bits of cereal around in his bowl of milk. He scooped a few Os out of the milk,"Oh no, help me, Harry! Help me!" Harry made them beg, but instead of returning the pleading cereal to the bowl, he gleefully ate them.
Sirius stared at Harry. "I'm not even going to ask," he gestured at Harry's breakfast, "but I know you're somehow involved with the burning of my toast!"
Harry sniffed at him, "Am not. Did you check the setting?"
"Of course I did!" Sirius replied, surreptitiously eying the dial knob. Hmm, right where he left it yesterday morning, when he had had perfect toast.
"Then it was the toaster," Harry replied primly.
Sirius glowered at him. The boy was somehow involved with this. He spent the rest of the morning fiddling with the knob and went through a full loaf of bread. Each piece was either completely charred or was only faintly warm, no matter what position the dial was in.
He was still in his pajamas, swearing and trying again with the faintly warm slices when Remus came in around eleven. Harry was in the sitting room, lounging on the couch as he read the comics section of the Daily Prophet, occasionally flicking his gaze up to smirk at his godfather when the man snarled at the contraption.
Remus paused in the sitting room, staring at his frustrated friend as he threw down and stomped on several slices of toast, screaming at them in French.
"Is there a reason he's...?" Remus asked, gesturing at Sirius as he pulled out his wand and hexed the hapless bread.
"I imagine," Harry said casually, folding the newspaper in half. "Did you read today's Mage Valorous? It's pretty good."
"No," Remus replied, distracted again by Sirius chasing a piece of four-legged toast under the table. "I haven't yet. But I will, once we get the toast situation sorted out."
When Sirius bellowed like a stung bull and reached for a kitchen knife, Remus hurried to intervene.
The three of them didn't make it to Diagon Alley until well into the afternoon, but once the trip had settled down and Harry was behaving himself, Sirius relaxed enough to properly enjoy the day he turned ("OhmygodI'mold!") thirty.
His godson was also uncommonly solicitous about his happiness, as if the child was sorry for letting the Toast Incident get out of hand. Sirius still had no idea what Harry had done to his toaster or even how. After a three-year old Harry had charmed Sirius's hair electric blue, Sirius had always gone out of his way to hide his wand out of Harry's reach, so that wasn't it.
Hmmm, something to ponder when not eating chocolate gelato with his godson and best friend and bird watching.
After finishing up at Fortescue's, Sirius made a stop at the magical equivalent of an appliance store, intending to buy another toaster.
"You won't need a new toaster, Sirius," Harry said, tugging on his sleeve as he looked at the different models. "I fixed it when you were in the shower."
Sirius looked down at the boy, who shifted uncomfortably. He'd have to train Harry out of that before Hogwarts, he decided. "Thank you," he nodded.
Harry smiled as they made their way out of the shop.
The rest of October passed quietly, the two Marauders and the Marauderling pausing to remember Harry's parents before properly enjoying Halloween. November slipped past them with a flurry of snowball fights, icy wakeup calls, and Harry's resulting annual cold.
December sauntered through Kennel Cottage and Sirius woke up on Christmas day feeling quite nice. He yawned and stretched, enjoying the pull of muscle and tendon, smiling at the ceiling and sat up, and promptly yanked his foot off the floor when it touched something cold and wet. He looked at the floor with horror. There was an entire army of stick-armed snowmen sitting on his bedroom floor, packed in so closely that there was no way he'd be able to pick his way through them. And his wand was across the room on top of his wardrobe!
Swearing, Sirius leaped off his bed toward the wardrobe and yelped when he landed in cold snow. He jumped again, determined to touch as little of the stuff as possible and when Sirius reached for his wand on top of the wardrobe...he felt several small somethings graze the back of his ankle. He howled and shifted to his animagus form, snarling at the approaching snowmen. They scuttled away from his snapping teeth and melted, leaving only a bonfire's worth of kindling behind on the floor.
Remus and Harry only grinned at him when he walked into the kitchen before returning to their treacle.
Of course, Sirius got them back. He transferred various singing charms to door hinges, Remus's coat pocket flap, the toilet, and, as Harry discovered the next morning, the lid of his favorite cereal box. Each song was progressively more annoying, starting with "Wald the What's-it" and moving down the to the murderous-rage inducing muggle Christmas song "Frosty the Snowman." A glaring Harry threatened to wring Sirius's neck if "Frosty" ever made it into his cereal again.
Remus's birthday was March tenth and Sirius and Harry set out to make his thirtieth birthday memorable. Remus had found work in as a clerk in a Grunnings warehouse in Surrey, where he answered phones, filed paperwork, and did all the mind numbing tasks a clerk does. While Remus was out on lunch—some of his coworkers were treating him as it was his birthday—Harry and Sirius invaded the office.
They couldn't use magic as Remus worked with Muggles, but there were still a host of options. Harry fished through the paper bin and took out useless, usually blank, forms and papers. After he had a stack of them, he mixed them in with the pile of folders on Remus's desk, and added an entire folder of the blanks into the stack.
Sirius had been very carefully saving all of the disgusting Bertie Bots from his stash for months and placed a small jar of them, mixed with a new bag of jelly beans, on Remus's desk. Under the container was a note,
See you at Tantamount tonight at seven!
Sirius and Harry
Snickering, the two put a few final pranks in place and slipped away.
Remus arrived at the restaurant that night, looking both amused and annoyed.
"You know," he said as he slid into the booth next to Harry, "my coworkers now think I like freakishly flavored jelly beans. Fern—"
"That bird you fancy?" asked Harry as he played tic-tac-toe with Sirius on his paper child's menu.
Remus gave Harry an annoyed look, "Yes, her. She got a rhubarb one, and then they all crowded around my desk and stole the jar. Issac got a sardine bean, and Gemma got raspberry, and then Fern tried again and ended up with a booger one."
"Poor girl," Sirius commented absently as he lost to Harry—again. "Those are very salty."
Remus rolled his eyes. "And who's idea was the paper thing? Really, my boss gave me such a look for handing him a folder full of blank forms."
Harry gave him a toothy grin.
April Fool's was traditionally a quiet day simply because the Marauders were contrary, making it the only day in the year guaranteed to be prank-free. The worst that happened was Remus would stick a few simple paper fish around Kennel Cottage. When questioned about them, Remus would simply smirk at the questioner and murmur something about April's Fish. Every year, Sirius asked who was this April girl was and what did she have to do with fish?
Remus never answered.
Summer rolled around, and Sirius and Harry often ate dinner in the yard and watched the stars as Sirius told Harry the stories associated with the constellations and pointed them out.
"Is that where your mum picked you name from?" Harry asked Sirius after he explained the stories of the Big Dipper and the North star.
"Sort of. It's traditional for Blacks to have that kind of name, but also it pulled from family tradition. Technically, I am Sirius Orion Black the Third," Sirius drawled swottily.
Harry laughed, "You drop 'the third,' right?"
"Of course! I'd much prefer not to remember my family, much less that I'm the third Sirius Orion."
Harry nodded with a smile before going on, "I know your parents died, but are any other of your relatives still around?"
Sirius sighed. The boy would find out eventually anyway. "Yes, though not many. I'm the last male Black, but I have female cousins, two of whom have children. Remember Andromeda and Dora?"
"Yeah," Harry nodded again.
"Well, there's them, and then Narcissa, her sister, who has one son...Draco or Deacon is his name, I forget which. Deacon Malfoy?...Draco Malfoy?" Sirius tried again, trying to remember what sounded right. "...Draco, I think. I'll have to check. Anyway, he's my second cousin, technically. And the Weasleys. You remember them, right?"
Harry had only met them once and that was many years ago. "The red-heads? Ron, and the twins, and everybody else?"
"Yeah, that's them. They're more distantly related but I like them, so I'll claim them. And that's everybody who's not in prison. Does that answer your question?"
"Yeah," Harry nodded before asking, "You don't like talking about them, do you?"
"No, not especially, except for Andromeda and Arthur of course."
Harry nodded again. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Sirius smiled and pulled his godson into a one-armed hug.
Harry's birthday was always a big event, with a surprising number of people showing up—Andromeda and her family, and several of the remaining Order members and their families, and of course, Remus. There was cake, and pranks, and presents, and the most horrible, off-key rendition of "Happy Birthday" that Sirius and Remus could manage. Harry had managed pried off the stupid birthday hat Sirius or Remus had spelled onto his head by then, and he usually threw it at the two men with a laugh. Except for the years the hat was a beanie and a pair of rabbit's ears, he missed unless they stood close enough; paper hats do not fly very far.
The year Harry turned ten, Minerva McGonagall was invited. Sirius fully expected that Harry would be a Gryffindor and he thought it wise for her to meet him before school started. She showed up right as the party started and Sirius dragged Harry over to meet her.
"Harry, you'll be seeing this lady at Hogwarts, when you go, and I think you'll like her," Sirius said quietly as he lead his godson towards where McGonagall stood.
Minerva assumed that Sirius was admonishing Harry to behave as he lead the James lookalike towards her. She had never been able to pry the story of how the boy had ended up in Sirius's care out of the Headmaster, but she was sure it was quite a tale.
Sirius flashed her a smile as he stopped in front of her, the little boy in tow. "Harry, this is Professor Minerva McGonagall. She'll be teaching you transfiguration when you go to Hogwarts. Professor, this is Harry."
"Pleased to meet you," Harry smiled at her, offering his hand for a handshake.
She smiled at him and took his hand, "Pleased to meet you, too, Mr. Potter."
Sirius disappeared with a grin as Harry proceeded to wrap McGonagall around his little finger with winsome smiles and adorable jokes. He laid it on thick, and McGonagall, the old softie, ate it all up. Sirius chuckled. He had done well.
Present time rolled around sometime later and Harry could barely suppress his glee. What was there not to like about presents? He received a pile of them—a broom from Sirius, a couple books from Remus, a sneakoscope from Moody, and about about a dozen other things.
The best present, though, was a little grey mouse that was as long as his index finger. He opened the cage and it looked up at him from its soft nest of down with large eyes, and issued a soft, musical trill. Harry gasped.
McGonagall chuckled, "That's a musendrophilus. He's a singing tree mouse, and as long as you treat him nicely, he'll stay with you. Make sure he doesn't get outside until you have him trained, though, otherwise you'll never get him back."
Harry nodded, still staring at his new pet. "Thank you, Professor," he said after a moment, meeting her eyes and grinning at her. "I think I shall call him Nimh."
Lyrics to Wald the What's-it:
Wald the What's-it had a very fine beard,
It made him most feared,
Made him renown,
One he had found,
That it ate people,
And let him swing from a steeple.
Tentacles it would grow,
And it would issue a deathblow,
To anyone who stood too close,
Woe betide Wald the What's-it's foes!
Chapter 3: Weeping Lenin
Climb into the Chao with a friend or two
And follow the Way it carries you.
Adrift like a Lunatic Lifeboat Crew
Over the Waves in whatever you do.
The Honest Book of Truth; The Book of Advise, 1:3
Harry got his Hogwarts letter days before his eleventh birthday, which precipitated much dancing from Sirius and Remus and echoing war cries on Harry's part. He was all smiles the rest of the day, occasionally humming what he claimed was the Hogwarts school song.
As the school song had no set melody, this could well be true Remus reminded Sirius. Sirius merely sniffed, his musical sensibilities offended by the boy's loud, off-key, and nasal humming.
Towards the end of August Sirius and Remus took Harry to Diagon Alley for his school supplies. Harry never tired of the bright and glittery atmosphere of Diagon and Sirius very seriously considered using a leash charm to keep him nearby.
Harry also never tired of the staring; he was the Boy Who Lived and he knew it. He basked in the attention like a cat in the sun and never ceased to be amused that a scar made him something special. Some of the stupider gawkers would ask him if he remembered anything from that night; sometimes he would be honest and say that he didn't, other times he would weave wild stories about his mother or father duelling Voldemort and nearly winning.
Harry entertained himself in the apothecary while Sirius shopped for his potions stuff—alternating between those wild and tangled stories and the truth, never telling the same story and never within in the earshot of anyone he had told a different story. Remus could not help but admire the hellion he and Sirius had wrought between them.
The matter of Harry's wand had Sirius grinning. Everyone's first reaction to Ollivander was individual and utterly hilarious. Remus on the other hand, knew that Harry was aware of Sirius's joyous anticipation.
They walked through the small round door made of thin crystal that lead into the shop, a soft tinkle alerting Ollivander to their presence. The pale man peeked over a counter, his poof of dandelion white hair surrounding his head like a snowy halo and his pale blue eyes scrutinizing them.
"Sirius Black, oak and dragon heart string, twelve and a half inches, sturdy and good for transfiguration. Remus Lupin, ironwood and unicorn hair, thirteen inches, ideal for defensive purposes. And Harry Potter, as of yet wandless. I wondered when I'd be seeing you." He stood up, his lanky frame unfolding as he stared at Harry.
Sirius, throughout the greeting had been avidly watching Harry's face, nodding distractedly when Ollivander spoke to him. With great effort, Harry kept his expression neutral, offering a smile when the old man spoke to him.
"Pleased to meet you," he said evenly.
Ollivander smiled. "Shall we get started?"
Harry nodded and immediately half a dozen measuring tapes whizzed out of a box on the counter top and raced over his body. Sirius laughed when Harry couldn't stop his shock and embarrassment from showing.
The elderly man squinted at the results the quill was writing, hmm'ing , and scratching his chin thoughtfully before disappearing into the back of the shop when the tapes returned themselves to their box. There was the sound of someone rummaging through boxes and shelves, and a crash and swearing when something fell, and with a cloud of dust on his heels, Ollivander reappeared with a fistful of wands.
Harry took them one by one and waved them. First, a vase exploded, then Sirius's hair nearly caught on fire, and when the box of tape measures was changed into a litter of Yorkshire puppies Harry devolved into giggles.
Finally, after several more dust clouds, doggy yelps, and the smell of wet cat, Harry picked up the last wand on the table. A feeling of soft, smiling warmth flowed up his arm and when he waved it, steel sparks glittered in the air, surrounded by a soft red and gold mist.
Ollivander threw him a lopsided smile, "Interesting color of sparks, Mr. Potter. Phoenix feather and holly."
In the days before the train left, Sirius and Remus spoilt Harry, taking him for ice cream, out for Chinese, and to the beach.
Harry wolf whistled when a curvy woman in tiny bikini caught Remus's eye and winked as he helped build Harry's sandcastle. She paused, threw Harry a smile, and looked expectantly at Remus who blushed and shifted uncertainly. Sirius smirked him and Remus took courage from it, walking out to meet her. Within moments, she had latched on to his arm and was flirting outrageously.
Sirius adjusted his sunglasses and looked over at Harry. "Think she needs to visit someone about her eyes?" he asked with a laugh.
Harry snickered as he etched a window into the side of his elaborate creation with a pilfered tooth pick.
Within an hour, Remus came back as fast as decorum would allow, her hot on his heels.
"But Reeeemy! We've hardly met and now you're rushing off?" she whined, tossing brassy blonde locks over one shoulder and pouting.
His grimace resembled a smile if the viewer squinted, "I, uh, need to get back to—"
"—Your son? Is he? He's so cute!" she pointed at Harry.
Remus's expression begged him to play along, "Yeah. He, uh, resembles his other dad more, though."
She stopped. "Oh. Oh," she looked between Sirius and Harry and then at Remus.
Harry smiled up at Remus. "Want to help me finish my castle?" he asked.
"Sure," he agreed and plopped down next to Harry, picking up another tooth pick.
"Well," the woman said awkwardly, "it was, uh, nice talking to you."
"Indeed," Remus said, lying through his teeth. Once she left, he dropped the tooth pick and dropped back on the sand with an exasperated sigh. "Too good to be true."
"What?" asked Sirius.
Remus peered around his arm at the other man, "Blonde, nice body, big tits. I hoped there was a brain in there. There wasn't and she was in my lap inside fifteen minutes."
"The tart," commented Harry, staring at his castle and obviously deliberating what to do next.
Remus stared at Harry for a moment and laughed. Sirius snickered. "I have done well," he announced to the world at large.
Harry nodded and Remus shook his head. He turned to look at Sirius, "Thank you for playing along. Gay and unavailable was the best I could come up with."
Sirius grinned, "Snookie-poo, that's all right. You know how I love it when you use me."
Remus stared at Sirius, nonplussed. "You frighten me," he said after a long moment.
"I do what I can," Sirius nodded solemnly.
September first rolled around, and Sirius and Remus were torn between jumping up and down with joy and moping because Harry was finally off to Hogwarts.
"Rather nostalgic, isn't it?" Remus asked Sirius, who nodded, as he fussed with Harry's hair.
Harry scowled and tried to escape Remus's clutches, only to be dragged back. "What are you, my mum?" he groused.
Remus paused, "Sorry."
Harry grinned, "'S all right."
Sirius knelt before Harry and looked at him very seriously, "Do you remember when the kitchens are?"
"Behind the fruit still life on the ground floor. Tickle the pear and it becomes a door handle."
"Very good," said Sirius. "We feel we should discourage you from looking for secret tunnels at this point. Wait 'till you're a bit older, okay?"
Harry nodded solemnly, "And then you'll drop hints, right?"
Sirius nodded back and Remus remained silent. Harry was entirely too wily, and while he would probably heed Sirius's advice when it came to actually using them, he would certainly find them within the first year or two.
"Let's get a move on," he said after a moment. "Ought to get there a bit early, so we can fuss over you publicly."
Harry pursed his lips, "Do it and suffer my wrath at Christmas."
"Right," Remus agreed. Harry's wrath matched both Sirius's and his late mother's. But he had risked those for years as a friend and Prefect so he thought he could handle it.
"Or possibly before," Harry added. "Beware of Duhr's deliveries. They may explode in glitter. Pink glitter."
"I still can't believe you named your owl Duhr," Sirius said, shaking his head.
"Ah, but I did!" Harry said cheekily. "'Duhr the owl.' That has a nice ring to it."
"No," said Remus, "it doesn't. That's why you picked it."
"All right, it has a stupid ring to it," he said.
Sirius's face was screwed up with repressed laughter. "Only you, Harry. Only you," he said finally.
The child grinned, "And who's fault is that?"
"Ours," said Remus. He paused, "You little monkey! Distracting us with stupidly named owls and pink glitter! Out! Grab his trunk, Sirius." Remus ushered a grinning Harry towards the fireplace and grabbed the pot that held the Floo powder.
Remus and Harry stepped into green flames, landing gracefully on the hearth of the receiving fireplace. After a moment, Sirius followed, perched on Harry's trunk as it flew out of the fireplace, and skidded and spun across the floor.
"You used a sticking charm, didn't you?" asked Remus when the flying trunk came to halt.
Sirius nodded and unstuck himself from the lid of the trunk, standing up.
Harry scurried over to his luggage. "You did not!" he said, examining it for damage.
"Ah, but I did!" he grinned.
"I hate you," Harry told him, hands his hips.
"I love you, too," Sirius replied. "Even when you give owls stupid names and tell me you hate me, though it wounds me so."
"Shuddup, Sirius." Harry rolled his eyes. "Now, shall we drop off my trunk? I'll let you fuss over me if you can do it without a feather-light charm, Sirius," he challenged.
"Fussing," he answered lightly, "is Remus's department. Let him lug it."
"I'll fuss over you either way and you'll like it," Remus told him, casting the charm on the bulky trunk. "And knowing you, you've somehow managed to make the thing weigh a metric tonne."
Harry sighed, "You caught me. Can we go now?"
Both adults shook their heads and the trio moved towards the train, dropping off Harry's belongings at the designated location.
True to his word, Remus spent the last fifteen minutes fussing over Harry and Sirius joined in, making Harry scowl. The train whistle sounded.
"Go on," Sirius urged.
"Or you'll not be able to get a decent compartment," Remus added.
Harry gave them a brilliant smile and hugged both of them before scampering on board.
Skilfully navigating the crush of students, Harry secured himself an empty compartment at the end of the train. He lounged in the sun, enjoying the peace he was sure he would never get while on the ground of Hogwarts.
The door slid open and he cracked an eye open to see red hair peeking around the entryway. He caught sight of Harry and his eyes widened.
"Uhm...you're Harry Potter, right?"
"I am," he agreed amicably, closing his eyes again.
"Mind if I join you?" he asked, sounding a little more sure of himself when Harry didn't act like a complete prat.
"Sure," Harry nodded. "Spread out anywhere I'm not." He was currently occupying an entire bench.
"Right," the boy agreed. "Thanks."
"'Welcome," he nodded.
The other boy shuffled around and there was the sound of a compressing cushion as he sat down. "Ron Weasley," he said into the silence.
Harry opened his eyes and sat up, looking at Ron. "Pleased to meet you—again," he said, offering his hand.
Ron shook it after hesitating for a moment. Harry grinned at him and flopped over.
"Have you really got...the scar?" he asked softly.
"Didn't you ask this last time? And have you really got fifteen siblings?" Harry replied tartly.
Ron looked offended, "No, only six. And I don't remember meeting you."
"Well, I haven't got any. And yes, I have the scar."
"Want to buy one of my siblings off me? A galleon for the oldest two, six sickles for the twins or my sister, and a knut for Percy," Ron offered, trying to be sociable.
Harry grinned, "Percy, hmm? Must be a right pain if you only want a knut."
"He is," Ron agreed.
"Sounds like a good deal, really, but I'm quite happy as an only child. And I don't think Sirius would appreciate it if I brought home one of you lot. The cottage is small and there's two or three of us there at any given time."
"I thought you said you were an only child," Ron frowned.
"I am, but Sirius's friend Remus practically lives with us a lot of the time. He's got his own room and a book case, even."
"Ah," said Ron, looking little confused as to why a bookcase was important.
"That's a sign you've got a home with Sirius and I," Harry explained, "when you have a bed and a book case all to yourself. Remus's is enormous—takes up half the wall, it does."
Ron smiled. "With us, you either share a room with a brother or a ghoul. Unless you're Ginny, in which case you share a room with a cat."
Harry nodded, "Makes sense."
The rest of the ride was relatively uneventful, interrupted only by a missing toad search party.
"Toads," Harry scoffed. "Blegh," he added after a moment.
Ron nodded. "I've got a rat, myself. Crazy little thing," he said patting a lump in his shirt pocket.
"What's his name?" asked Harry.
"Used to be Scabbers, but I've renamed him in honor of his former master. I call him Prissy."
Harry laughed, "That's excellent!"
"I rather like it," he agreed. "Got a companion, too?" Ron asked, grinning.
Harry nodded. "An owl named Duhr."
"Duhr?" Ron asked incredulously.
"Duhr," Harry confirmed.
"What kind of name is that?" asked Ron with befuddled amusement.
"It's Arabic. And a name for a star," he said airily.
"But 'Duhr'? Couldn't you have named it, I dunno, Dirk or something?"
"Yes, but I chose Duhr and Duhr he shall remain," said Harry firmly.
Ron nodded with a snicker. "I think I shall enjoy calling him that."
They arrived eventually and Hagrid, who Harry remembered from his birthday parties, escorted the first years across the lake. The castle was more spectacular than he had heard, lit like a lantern against the starry night sky. The tiny schooners took them across the lake and the giant squid glided under their boats. Harry grinned and regaled his boat-mates with a story of the Marauders and the Squid Dye Job of 1975.
McGonagall greeted them at the dock and lead them to the doors of the Great Hall. She disappeared for a brief while, and they began to quietly chatter.
"You must be Harry Potter," a voice broke through his conversation with Ron.
Harry looked over at the source of the voice and immediately, the boy set his teeth on edge. "Yes," he said crisply. "You must be Deacon Malfoy."
The boy looked offended, "Draco Malfoy."
"Draco, Deacon," Harry shrugged, as if there was no difference.
"I see you're only fit for the likes of a Weasley for a companion," Malfoy sneered.
Harry raised an eyebrow, "You shouldn't talk about family that way."
"Family?" both Ron and Malfoy sputtered.
"Yes," nodded Harry. "You do happen to be related. My guardian is your mother's first cousin and your grandmother, Ron, was a Black, too." He looked at the two of them, who were both confused and livid, "Didn't you know?"
"My grandmother doesn't talk about her family much," Ron ground out. "Now I know why."
"And your grandmother, if she's really a Black, was probably burned off the family tree," replied Malfoy.
Harry shrugged. "You're still related. Now, kindly go away, Deacon. I was having a lovely conversation with Ron."
Malfoy stalked away and Harry looked at Ron, "My guardian, Sirius, is a Black. Don't tar all of them with the same brush. Most of them are awful, but a handful are awesome."
"Right," agreed Ron.
She gave the speech Remus and Sirius had warned him she would before throwing open the doors and leading them to the wings of the room.
The hat, which Harry had heard about, opened its brim to sing, effectively shutting up the annoying girl talking about the properties of the ceiling above them. He silently thanked Merlin as he listened to the song.
"Oh you may not think I'm pretty..."
And the sorting began.
"Abbot, Hannah," became a Hufflepuff and "Bixler, Melvin," became a Ravenclaw. McGonagall made her way through the list of names and at last called, "Potter, Harry."
Calmly, though he was antsy inside, Harry made his way to the stool and she placed the hat on his head.
The first words it said, "Oh my." Followed by, "You're a right little bastard, aren't you?" It seemed amused as it sorted through his head.
"Possibly," Harry replied noncommittally.
"Hm, where to put you, where to put you? I think you'd make Ravenclaw miserable, and the Hufflepuffs confused. And—oh dear—Professor Snape would have an apoplexy if I put you in Slytherin, not to mention what you'd do to your housemates. Deacon Malfoy indeed!"
"Hey, he started it. I'm just going to laugh at him until he quits."
"Which means he'll never quit."
"An endless source of amusement, then."
The hat sighed. "Gryffindor!" it called.
The table on the left side of the hall burst out into cheers and applause.
Harry grinned and sauntered over to the table, settling down in an empty seat.
Oh god, Snape thought. I had forgotten Potter was coming this year. Oh god.
Chapter 4: Tournament of Sleeping Fishes
"Aneristic" is Discordian for order. "Erisitic" is chaos. For further information, consult The Principia Discordia.
"The other day, a small gnome tunneled up from my closet. His watch was of Swiss make, and I assumed him to be from Zürich, but still, one never knows. He spoke flawless Atlantean, and told me through my pineal gland that what we were doing here was a Good Thing. 'The world tries to make itself out to be a very serious place, grasshopper, but We know it to be not true. Peoples is peoples. Hierarchy, pecking orders, fame, fortune — these make mere mortals into myths in their own time. Tear down these walls (but be sure to put some different ones in their places, so as not to frighten the rubes). Add confusion to people's lives, so'n they might think from time to time.'" — The Principa Discordia
Neville stared dubiously at Harry as he stood in front of their dormitory, his arms crossed and a resolute look on his face. Three boys—Ron, Seamus, and Dean—lurked behind Neville and stared at Harry for a long moment before Ron bit out, "Get out of the bloody way!" He glared over Neville's shoulder.
Harry shook his head. "Before you may pass," he said solemnly, "I must sprinkle you with fairy dust."
Seamus looked disgusted. "Fairy poop? Absolutely not. Let me in, Potter, or else."
"Or else, what?" Harry asked, an eye brow raised, as if to say go ahead, punk. Make my day. "And anyway, it's not fairy poop," he sniffed, sounding offended. "I don't much fancy catching fairy flu or something. However, it must be done." With that, he flicked a palm full of brightly glittering, multicolored dust into the air and it settled over their hair and clothes, glimmering in the torch light.
Seamus looked disgusted. "I said no!"
Dean dusted some of it off his shoulder and stared at the flecks that stuck to his hand. "Glitter, Potter?" he asked with amusement.
Harry shot him a conspiratorial grin. "Fairy dust, Thomas. Fairies shed their skin, you know, like snakes." He paused. "But not creepy. That's what fairy dust is made of; no poop involved, Finnegan," he said.
Dean grinned. "I think I remember hearing something about that in the apothecary."
Seamus pursed his lips. "I call shenanigans, Potter."
"Call them all you like, Finnegan," Harry said, casually slouching against the doorway.
Seamus glared at him before Neville piped up, "I've been dusted and everything, so can I go to sleep now?"
"Of course, Neville," Harry said, moving to the side to allow the boy to pass. With a Cheshire grin, Harry followed Neville into the room, leaving the other three boys to stand in the door way.
The beginning of term arrived the next day and in a whirlwind of activity and plotting, Harry bustled through his first day at Hogwarts. Sirius, Remus, and he had spent time plotting out how he could be the most effective prankster and they had determined that the best way to do that was for Harry to behave for a while. He was to give the impression to his teachers of a well bred, good natured boy who's last intention was wreaking havoc.
And most of them fell for it. McGonagall saw light hearted grins that resembled James's own smiles and Lily's focused expression when he was working, Flitwick saw bright, laughing boy and Hooch saw a determined flyer. No teacher noticed the Sirius smirks and Remus's calculating looks that crossed his face.
The very first prank Harry carried out in Hogwarts, aside from the fairy dust, was in herbology. He hadn't even planned to do it, but the opportunity presented itself and who was he to say no when Malfoy volunteered so nicely?
After the register was called, Professor Sprout set them up for their first lesson and, as luck would have it, he ended up across from Draco Malfoy as they began to pot blue and purple violets that were shrouded in a delicate silver mist.
"Deacon," he said casually, "would you pass me that trowel, please?" He pointed to a small hand shovel that rested next to the other boy's pot.
Draco glared at him. "It's Draco."
Harry waived a hand dismissively. "As you wish. Would you pass it over, then?"
The blonde boy glared again at Harry and turned to one of the very large boys who stood with him—Harry didn't know his name—and ordered, "Pass the trowel to Potter."
The large boy blinked dully and handed over the implement without a word.
Harry smiled. "What's your name?"
The boy blinked with fuzzy bemusement. "Goyle," he said, sounding faintly surprised that Harry would even care what his name was.
"Ah, thank you Goyle. Most appreciated," Harry said genially.
Goyle bobbed his head in acknowledgement, a faintly pleased smile hovering on his lips. "'Welcome."
Harry gave him a shinning smile and turned to Malfoy, "And thank you, Deacon," he said sweetly.
The other boy turned white with anger. "Draco," he gritted out, "it's Draco!" his expression shifted from anger to condescension. "Not that I gave you permission to call me by my first name, mind you." He sneered at Harry, "Don't take such familiarities with your betters, Potter."
Harry paused and put down his trowel and plant. "Excuse me?" he asked with a frosty smile, "Would you please repeat that?"
"Do not take such familiarities with your social betters, Potter," Draco said, looking smug.
Harry simply smiled more widely, the expression made of teeth. "Ah, so I did hear what I thought." And with that, he went back to his plant and after a moment Draco smugly followed suit.
Dean was standing next to Harry and looked at him, an eye brow raised. "Are you going to take that?" he asked, just loud enough Harry would be able to hear him.
Harry shook his head. "Oh, no, Thomas, of course not. Social betters, my foot. That boy is a snotty, ill bred troglodyte. One should never rub one's social status in the face of another, especially when one is wrong." Harry looked annoyed and then gave Dean a wicked smile, "He needs to learn that lesson, doesn't he?" He flicked his wand to the side, a thin silver needle of light arching out of the tip of his wand towards Draco.
"Oh no," Dean said with a soft laugh, "what did you do?"
"You'll see," Harry said with a smile as he got back to work.
Dean took those words to heart and kept an eye on Malfoy as he potted the petite flowers. A few minutes after his exchange with Harry, Malfoy stopped dead and stared at his pot. He blinked as if trying to clear his eyes and then stared again. This happened several more times over the course of the class period, and by the fifth time Malfoy had pinned Harry as the culprit. "Potter!" he hissed, "Cease that at once!"
Harry looked up at Malfoy, confusion written on his face. "Cease what? I haven't done anything."
"You're making my dirt pull faces at me!" Malfoy said furiously.
Harry tilted his head. "What?" he paused, looking slightly concerned. "Perhaps you should see the nurse, Deacon, if your dirt is making faces."
Malfoy's expression became even more livid and as soon as class was over he stomped toward the professor. Harry sent a discreet Finite Incantatum at the pot as he packed his things, before heading to the door with the others.
"Potter," Professor Sprout called. "Please remain behind. I'd like to have a word with you."
Harry nodded and obediently stopped at the door. "Go on," Harry said quietly to Dean and Ron, "I'll catch up." He moved towards their teacher without a backwards glance.
"Potter," Professor Sprout said when he reached where she and Draco stood. "Malfoy says you cast a spell on his pot and distracted him all lesson."
Harry looked baffled, "What spell is it he says I cast?"
"A variation of Derideo Visio. It causes objects to make faces at the intended victim," Professor Sprout explained patiently.
Ah, Harry thought, she doesn't think I did it. He put on a curious face. "I don't know that spell, actually." Harry smiled cheerfully, "But I may have to look it up! It sounds like it would be funny to put on Sirius."
"You know very well you're not allowed to use magic outside Hogwarts, Mr. Potter," Sprout chided with amusement.
"I do," Harry agreed, "but I don't think it'll take much effort to convince Remus to use it on him for me."
She laughed, "I imagine not! But I will have to check the pot for the spell, okay?" she asked.
Harry nodded dutifully as she waved her wand at the pot. The spell came up negative. "Hm, well, Mr. Malfoy," Professor Sprout said, "it looks like you are incorrect. I recommend that you go the nurse this evening and I shall inform your head of house as such."
Malfoy glared at Harry. "Yes, Professor," he said stiffly. He gave her a short, cursory nod and left.
"May I go?" Harry asked Sprout as she watched Malfoy leave the room, an angry look on her face and her hands on her hips. As soon as she nodded, Harry thanked her and took off.
Sirius and Remus had drawn Harry a map of Hogwarts from memory, all the while bemoaning the loss of some sort of magical map Filch had confiscated. Harry had found a few discrepancies over the weekend while wandering far and wide in the castle but it looked like their map would lead him to the dungeons relatively quickly.
Dean shot him a look. "That was quick," he said as Harry appeared at his side.
Harry threw him a smile. "I know a few shortcuts," he said absently as he peered around the hallway.
"Already?" Ron asked. "You'll have to show us."
"Maybe," Harry shrugged casually, "but in return you'll have to help me with a few things."
Seamus looked wary. "Why does that sound ominous?"
"Relax," Harry waved a hand. "I'll try not to put you in the way of trouble without your consent, I swear."
"I should introduce you to the twins; you'll get along famously with them," Ron chuckled.
Harry nodded and laughed, "I remember those two and from what I've been told, they've gotten worse since I saw them last."
Ron looked annoyed. "I don't know why I don't remember meeting you before."
"We were only three," Harry said vaguely as he continued to look for their classroom. "Ah," he muttered and lead them to the left, entering the class. They settled in the third row from the front. Ron and Harry sat together, Dean and Seamus picked the next table over, and Neville nervously picked the free table on Ron and Harry's other side. A girl hurried up to him, breathlessly asking if she could sit with him. When he nodded and gave her a brave attempt at a smile, she dropped her bag and quietly introduced herself to him, though Harry didn't quite catch her name.
There was no sign of the teacher with three minutes left, but as soon as the clock ticking in the front of the class struck time, a tall, sallow man in billowing black robes swept into the class room. He began to speak, his voice soft and full of mystery.
Harry was fully aware of the history between Sirius, his father, and this man and therefore kept his expression neutral as Snape went on about the beauties of simmering potions and bottled glory. He had to give it to the man—he knew how to talk. Even Harry, who knew perfectly well the value of potions and what they could do, found himself listening.
After Snape finished his speech with a brutal remark, he began the register, and as Harry expected, stopped for a moment when he reached 'Potter,' the pause dripping condescension. However, he apparently chose not to indulge in overt pettiness and chose to go on to the next name on the list instead.
The rest of class was relatively uneventful, which didn't entirely sit well with Harry. Perhaps he had misjudged the man? Regardless, Harry thought it wise to let a sleeping dog lie until Snape provoked him, as he would likely do at some point. But what Harry would do if he did not, he wasn't sure. He pondered his options as he made his way through the teeming halls toward his defense class.
Within fifteen minutes, it was evident that Professor Quirrel was laughable. The nervous little man could barely be understood around his stutter and Harry saw no reason to bother waiting with this one. As the class settled down, Quirrel began to lecture, stammering and stumbling through his introductory speech.
Harry examined the dragon skeleton that hung above the class room as he wondered how to unnerve the man. It probably wouldn't take much, he mused. He turned his attention to his teacher, studying him. Quirrel seemed reluctant to make eye contact with Harry and averted his gaze from the section of the hall he sat in. Hmm... I wonder? he thought and began to stare at the teacher.
Harry had several stares. There was the blank one when he was bored, the absent minded one when he was plotting, the predatory one when he was carrying out a prank, and the almost reptilian one that unnerved people with its intensity, burning a proverbial hole in the victim's head. He turned the reptilian one on, and soon enough Quirrel noticed it and his eyes flicked in Harry's direction. Flicks turned into wary glances, to which Harry responded with a ghost of a smile. Quirrel tried to nervously smile back before glancing back to the rest of the class
Exiting the class sometime later, he wondered exactly why his teacher felt off. There was something...false, perhaps, about the man and Harry couldn't quite put his finger on it.
That night, Ron introduced Harry to his twin brothers, their Prefect brother hovering disapprovingly in the background.
"Harry!" One of them greeted jovially, shaking his hand violently as his twin circled them. "Smashing to meet you!"
Harry grinned back, "Kept your parents hopping since I last saw you, I hope?"
The other twin looked at the first and they chorused, "He remembers us?"
"I do," Harry nodded. "You charmed the legs off Remus's seat, if I recall. That alone is reason enough to remember you – Sirius and I combined rarely get one over on him, and you two managed it in the first fifteen minutes!"
The twins cracked equally wicked smiles. "We do what we can," the first said with a laugh. "I would be Fred and my clone is called George."
The other one, George apparently, sniffed. "I believe I was born first? That would make you my clone."
Fred closed his eyes and waved a hand dismissively. "A technicality." He cracked an eye open, a smile sliding across his lips. "Now, can we count on your help, little Marauder?"
Harry laughed, "You can!"
Percy swooped down upon them as the twins hooted with laughter and high fived each other. "Don't you go corrupting him!" he squawked. "It's bad enough we've got you two in the Tower; we don't need another hell raiser."
George clapped a hand over his mouth and looked at his twin, wide eyed. "Did Percy-kins just say his first swear word?"
Fred affected a shocked expression. "I think he did!"
Both boys immediately pounced upon their older brother and hugged him tightly, Percy staggering under their combined weight.
"You've grown so much," George squeaked, clearly trying to sound like their mother.
"But you'll always be our little Percy-kins," Fred said, pretending to wipe away a tear.
Percy's expression clouded with embarrassment. "Get off," he growled and escaped their clutches. "Grow up!" he snarled and whirled around.
Fred followed him as he stalked towards the boys' staircase. "Never!" he cried. "If we grow up, who's going to counter you?" There was a yelp as Fred tumbled back down the stair case, dodging a spell that sparked off the stone. He looked at his twin, both of them pursing their lips at each other. George helped his brother up and they went up the stairs again.
"Oh no," Ron murmured, looking slightly worried. "That can't be good." But he couldn't help but snicker as Percy's surprised yell became a rooster's crow.
A few weeks passed and Harry continued to play the part of a naif, excluding his defense class. Apparently, Snape had grown accustom to Harry's perfect behavior and the fact that he seemed to gracefully accept whatever grade he was given. His comments grew more biting with each lesson and one day, he crossed the line Harry had set down.
"Potter, this is disgraceful, even for you," he said as he waved a nearly perfect potion in Harry's face on Friday afternoon, violating what Harry considered his personal space.
He pursed his lips at Snape. "I must contest my grades, sir. I would like an impartial party to evaluate my potions from this lesson on, since I'm quite positive that I haven't failed each and every potion we've brewed."
Snape, aware that every Gryffindor was watching the confrontation avidly, sneered. "That it not possible, Potter."
"I disagree and I will be taking this up to the appropriate parties," Harry said smoothly. "On the other hand, assuming I am failing this badly, perhaps it's the quality of instruction I'm receiving?" He gave a saccharine smile to his teacher. "However, based on my observations of you, what I feel is more likely is that you're showing blatant prejudice towards me, based on both my house and my family." Harry paused, "How professional, sir."
"Your arrogance is unbecoming, Potter, and I assure you it's you who is failing." Snape said contemptuously. "And ten points from your house for your mouth."
Harry said nothing, choosing to stare at his teacher instead. After an awkward moment, Snape swept off to terrorize Neville.
"Let's just say that if complete and utter chaos were lightning, he'd be the sort to stand on a mountain in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting 'All gods are bastards'."
-The Colour of Magic Terry Pratchett
Dear Sirius and Remus,
Snape crossed my little line today and got in my face. Sirius, would you take up his blatant bias against me with McGonagall in the next week? I'm going to take it up with her myself tomorrow but I don't imagine it will do much good. Nor will yours I suspect, but then we can take it up with the Headmaster. Or with the Board, and you can slip a little something to Skeeter, maybe? She's forgiven you for whatever it was you did, right? I hope so, because then we can reign her in a little bit—I don't want a full expose, just the hovering threat of one.
On to lighter things! I'm doing well and my facade is still holding up. Apparently, my tactic is still working on Quirrel—boy, is he ever jumpy! I think I can convince Dean, Ron, and Neville to help me with my first prank. We're going to paper the school with some posters and I think I can replicate the stamp McGonagall uses for approval. I just need to practice some more—the little tiny details are a bitch to get right!
What a devious boy you are! You make me so proud! Yes, Rita has forgiven me, probably in hopes I'll repeat what I was doing before she got mad at me. I'm tempted to do it, too, and not just because it would give us some control over what she might say.
I'll be sure to take it up with McGonagall but Remus and I think three weeks is better timing. It gives her plenty of time to talk to dear old Snivelus if she is so inclined and for him not to change his behavior. Document every instance of favoritism and every time he gets in your face from now on, with witness signatures if you can get them. He'll probably be worse to you than before, but at least you'll have documentation of each instance.
Remus and I think that sounds like such a tame prank. Surely you can do better than that? We'll send you some moose antlers. Wear them with pri de!
Sirius and Remus
Harry laughed as he put down his letter on Saturday morning. Moose antlers? What would he do with those? Wearing them was out of the question—for now. He was working on his reputation with the other students at the moment and starting off with harmless, funny pranks would lay the groundwork he would need later. He knew he had the twins' help with pranks on Percy but he needed Ron's help, too. Harry planned to make the Prefect the main target of the prank, but he wanted a crowd as well. He didn't intend to publicly humiliate Percy, just to lead him around by the nose.
But, that prank was years away.
That afternoon, Harry called what he referred to as a "dorm meeting." Ron immediately smelled a prank when Harry looked far too innocent.
"Why do I suspect whatever you want to talk about will land us in detention?" Ron asked.
"I don't know," Harry responded, "why do you?"
Ron raised an eye brow. "I hope you know what you're doing."
Harry grinned. "I believe I do. And does that mean I can count on you?" When Ron nodded, he looked to the other boys. "You guys?"
Dean laughed, "Absolutely!"
"Nev?" Harry asked as he watched Neville chew on his lip.
"I don't want to get in trouble with my gran," he said slowly. "She'd likely send me a howler if I got in trouble..." Neville shuddered.
Harry nodded. "I can understand that, definitely. How about you act as a look out and help us behind the scenes? That way, you don't give your gran a reason to get mad at you."
Neville nodded and a hesitant smile crossed his face. "I think I'd like that."
"Great," Harry said with a smile for the other boy, before turning to Seamus. "How about you?"
Seamus gave him an appraising expression. "I'm in. For now," he added. "And I'm going to help Neville."
"Awesome." Harry smiled happily. "This should be fun, boys! I have many, many things planned."
Harry spent the time after the dorm meeting considering how to approach McGonagall. He was in a bit of a difficult place in that regard. The good Professor would likely back Snape to the hilt unless there was specific, provable evidence of abuse...which there wasn't. There had to be entire classes of Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs who couldn't see a cauldron and not feel horrible and goodness knew Neville shook at the thought of Snape, but Harry couldn't prove that if the kids refused, (rightly) believeing their testimony would backfire on them. Even with the cabbage-esque, someone-else-will-fix-it-for-me attitude of the Wizarding world, the other teachers and Dumbledore had to know what kind of a teacher Snape was and what he did. Why hadn't they done anything about it?
What ever the answer was, it seemed like Harry's complaint would be the very first one to be formally made and the self-imposed blinds would have to come down at the price of looking like an idiot. Pride would flavor whatever reaction McGonagall and Dumbledore had.
Harry pursed his lips. Going for Snape's throat might be the best tactic, as he would have to lay out most of the cards in his hand to do so. They would assume that all the cards they saw were all the cards there were.
Before dinner, Harry headed down to McGonagall's office, looking through the sturdy brown oak door that stood open as she leaned over a pile of papers to be graded. He knocked gently and her head snapped up to meet his eyes.
"Potter," she greeted. "Come in."
Harry entered the room and settled on the small pouffe-like chair that sat before her desk at her gesture with a smile of his own. "Hello, Professor. Might I steal a moment of your time?"
McGonagall nodded. "Steal away."
"I wish to lodge a complaint," Harry said calmly, "regarding my treatment at the hands of Professor Snape and his lack of professionalism." He watched her face, trying to judge her specific reactions.
McGonagall looked both a little weary and like she was going to back up her colleague. "Oh?"
Harry explained his concerns in great detail, giving her whats and whens over the last few weeks and emphasizing his concern that while he was getting the short end of the stick because of Snape's history with his family that all non-Slytherins were getting bad treatment.
McGonagall nodded and smiled a smile that said, 'let the grown ups take care of this.' "I will be sure to talk to Professor Snape about your concerns, but could you perhaps try studying harder?"
Harry pursed his lips at her. "I study most diligently, Professor, and I'm quite positive he'd fail be at brewing tea," he said tartly.
McGonagall laughed, "All right, all right. Keep studying then, and I shall talk to your Professor." A small clock chimed in the background and she exclaimed, "Dinner already? Anything else you wished to speak with me about? No? Then be off with you, Potter!" She shooed him out the door.
Harry, half caught up in her surprise and amusement, laughed as he left. "See you, Professor! Thanks for your time!"
To Perform the Turkey Curse:
Take a foot stance as if you were John L. Sullivan preparing for fisticuffs. Face the particular greyfaced you wish to short-circuit, or towards the direction of the negative aneristic vibration that you wish to neutralize. Begin waving your arms in any elaborate manner and make motions with your hands as though you were a Mandrake feeling up a sexy giantess. Chant, loudly and clearly:
GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE!
The results will be instantly apparent.
Monday rolled around again, and after putting away a very large pair of moose antlers that arrived in the mail from Remus and Sirius, Harry headed to class, humming and skipping on the way. He did it because it made Ron nervous. The boy was convinced he was going to pull something, even though he had no intentions of doing anything this morning. The day passed relatively quickly in a whirl of lessons and laughter.
Malfoy was actively avoiding him, which Harry thought was hilarious and everyone was aware of the reasons why. It humiliated the little pill and no one could pin anything on Harry, so he saw no reason not to be amused when the boy had shat in his own bed and now had to lie in it.
The day spun to a stop as Harry entered the dungeon and sat down in his first post-confrontation class with Snape. His stomach flipped with nerves and he fidgeted with his stirring rod as he watched the clock. It struck time and as Snape entered the classroom, Harry's stomach calmed. He would deal with whatever Snape threw at him and laugh in his face afterwards. He had the upper hand, not Snape, and there was no point in acting like an idiot.
Class unfolded without a single surprise; Snape was ruder, crueler, and tore into Gryffindors worse than ever.
"Have you sent in the hounds yet?" Snape asked him scathingly as class ended. "Neither one has turned up yet, so perhaps you don't matter to them? Black in particular has no regard for others," he drawled.
Harry stiffened and his expression was frosty, though he chose to remain silent. Snape assumed his silence was defeat and kept going, attacking Sirius and Remus individually and then as a pair, suggesting all manner of horrible things. And then, Harry responded the best way he knew how, aiming to stun and confuse rather than attack.
He settled into a fighting stance and flapped his arms like a bird, staring with wide-eyed intensity at his teacher, gobbling like a turkey. Snape trailed off mid-tirade to stare back, clearly wondering if Harry was insane. Harry dropped his arms, scooped up his bag, and left without a word.
Chapter 5: Comte de Fortsas
"Mayhem achieved, boredom relieved" - Bruce McCall
Harry knew from letters that Sirius had not yet been able to get in to see the Headmaster, so he took to amusing himself in potions. He theorized that Snape wouldn't even bother to look at anything he handed in, and therefore set about testing this hypothesis.
"Potter!" a bushy-haired classmate hissed at him, "what are you doing with a gigantic tea ball!"
Harry looked up at her from the cauldron he was currently steeping tea in and smiled (wasn't her name Hermione?). "Testing a theory." He held his finger to his lip, requesting her silence. "I'm not going to feed it to anyone, I swear."
"You'll loose us points!" the girl reminded him in a whisper.
"I'll loose us points if I complete a NEWTs potion perfectly." Harry rolled his eyes. "Just bear with me."
Grudgingly, she complied, casting him dark looks. Because she knew he was right, if nothing else.
As class came to a close, Harry drew out two phials, both of which he filled. One he tucked away and one he labeled for Snape's inspection, such as it might be.
He was, if course, unsurprised when Snape sneered at him and asked if he could even brew tea without failing.
"Could you please repeat that, sir?" Harry asked loudly. "I didn't quite catch it."
Snape rolled his eyes with disdain. "Can you," he pronounced louder, "even brew tea?"
Hermione, who was standing behind Snape whipped around to look at the pair of them, and now had a good idea what Potter had been testing.
"I think so, sir." Harry said blandly. "A friend of Sirius's introduced me to tea bags and unless you rip one open, you can't screw it up."
Snape didn't dignify that with a reply, instead stalking off to check on Malfoy, leaving Harry to clean up his station, which he did with a surprisingly straight face. Hermione would have thought that he would have burst out laughing half way through and ruined it.
"Oh dear, we are in trouble..." - Argus Filch, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Sirius Black found himself sitting across the desk from Albus Dumbledore once again, though this time as a guardian. Dumbledore gave him the ever-knowing, ever-amused expression that he always did and waited for him to talk. Sirius wouldn't talk first, though, and so they played the waiting game.
Eventually, with a cough and an offer of lemon drops, Dumbledore broke the silence. "What can I do for you, Sirius?"
"Fire Snape, but that might be asking too much," said Sirius casually. "No, really, I just don't want him grading any assignment Harry does."
"You think he will be biased against Mr. Potter?" Dumbledore asked evenly.
"I know he is, Headmaster. Remus and I taught him a thing or two about potions—we expected this, frankly—and Harry could not have failed to brew those potions. Snape says he did," Sirius said firmly, "and I sincerely doubt it."
"Be that as it may, Sirius," said the Headmaster, "I trust Severus to do his job."
"I," Sirius said crisply, "do not. And would like the opportunity to prove that I am correct."
Dumbledore appeared to consider this, likely knowing that Sirius was not about to let it go. "As you wish."
"Call him – Harry – here, please," said Sirius, hoping Harry was one step ahead of the game. It was a gamble, but Harry often was. Sirius suspected his godson, out of boredom and spite, would have already given Snape the rope he needed to hang himself with.
Eventually, Harry sauntered in, swinging his school bag. "Hello, Sirius, Headmaster," he said with a nod for each. "You called?"
"Yes," said Dumbledore, indicating that Harry should take a seat next to Sirius, "Mr. Black has requested that your potions grade be re-examined. Do you know anything about this?"
Harry gave Dumbledore a small smile as he settled down next to Sirius. "Yes, in fact I do. I asked for him to do so after my own efforts to acquire teacher intervention failed to produce results."
"Mr. Potter," Dumbledore said reprovingly, "Professor Snape is your teacher."
Harry said nothing, and gave the Headmaster a bland smile.
"Do you have proof?" asked Sirius, hoping that Harry did.
The boy nodded. "I do. It is currently in my dorm room, however, since I felt it unwise to keep with me. May I fetch it?" he asked politely.
"Of course," said Dumbledore. "Would you mind terribly if Mr. Black and I escorted you?"
"Not at all, if you ask Mr. Sna – I'm sorry, Professor Snape," Harry seemed to amend belatedly, "if he is asked to appear and bring his sample of my work and his grade book from my last class period with him. And perhaps my classmate, Miss Granger? She can provide further evidence to support our case, Headmaster, and I do believe that it is important to have all the proof we can offer presented."
"Do you plan to become a barrister after Hogwarts?" asked Dumbledore with amusement. "You certainly seem like you would make a good one." When Harry flashed him a disarming smile, he added, "And you may call upon Miss Granger, if she consents to speak – but during your lunch period, please."
"Of course, Headmaster," the boy agreed as the old man got up. With that, Harry took the lead, following stair cases toward his house's tower with Sirius and Dumbledore right behind him. When they reached the common room, Sirius and the Headmaster lingered while Harry traipsed upstairs. He soon returned with a phial, still sealed with wax.
"A trick I learned from Remus," Harry explained when the Headmaster appeared surprised by the seal. "His potions tried to crawl out of the phial sometimes and wax helps prevent that. I have never had that problem, but it's an old habit now." He shrugged.
Dumbledore took the lead this time, heading back to his office. Once it was reached, the Headmaster broke the seal and examined the contents. He frowned. "It appears to be tea. Oolong if I'm not mistaken."
"Correct, sir," said Harry evenly as Sirius bit the inside of his cheeks to retain a straight face. "Professor Snape did not seem to notice when he took my sample."
Dumbledore looked politely skeptical. "We shall have to talk to Professor Snape." With that, the man called a house elf and asked it to inform Professor Snape that he was needed in his free period. Harry was to be sent back to class until that time, which he did without complaint.
That left Sirius and Dumbledore in the office, and Sirius chose to lounge in his chair and attempt to make small talk with the Headmaster, deliberately making it as awkward as possible. Which didn't take much, as they had been on bad terms since Dumbledore's attempts to pry Harry out of his custody. Time moved sluggishly past, and eventually Dumbledore called for Harry again, who arrived at the same time as Snape did.
Sirius jumped on him. "Give the Headmaster Harry's sample."
Snape stared at him contemptuously before looking at Dumbledore, who nodded and held out a hand for the phial. "Your grade book, too, please."
Snape looked wary as he relinquished both objects.
"What was wrong with Mr. Potter's sample?" the Headmaster asked curiously as he opened the gradebook and scanned the contents.
"It was the wrong color and consistency, indicating that he failed to add the night heron's feathers at the correct time," said Snape neutrally.
Dumbledore nodded as he popped the cork and sniffed the contents. The man paused, swirled the liquid inside, and sniffed. "I see," said the Headmaster calmly. He looked at Harry. "No further testimony is required, Mr. Potter."
Snape's expression was guarded and Sirius guessed that he was wondering what the Headmaster was talking about.
"I would like to speak to Professor Snape in private, please," Dumbledore said to Harry and Sirius, who cleared out in record time.
As soon as they had exited the passage way to the Headmaster's office, Sirius gave Harry a high-five and they exchanged grins.
"Excellent. Oh, this is so awesome," said Harry happily. "I expect Dumbledore will be watching for retaliation, right?"
Sirius shrugged. "We can hope so. If not, just owl me and I'll have a chat with Dumbledore again."
"Will do!" said Harry with a smile, dancing a little bit. Sirius joined in for a minute, only stopping when he heard the grind of the stair case descending from the Headmaster's office. He promptly dragged Harry behind the nearest statue, just as Snape stalked past furiously, his back stiff with rage.
"Oh yes," Sirius whispered to Harry, giving him a high five. "We got him."
"What is genius, anyway, if it isn't the ability to give an adequate response to a great challenge?"- Bette Greene
Over the next week or so, Harry proceeded to do his pranking predecessors proud, wearing the rabbit ears around the castle, which poked through the brim of his school hat. He took them off for every class except for Defense, simply because he knew Quirell wouldn't try to make him take them off. So every defense period, he would kick his feet up on his desk and either try to creep his teacher out or ignored him in favor of the funnies section of The Prophet.
It wasn't long before he had most of his year in Gryffindor and Hufflepuff wearing the ears, too. Hermione, of course, refused to wear them, much to Harry's disappointment. He now made an effort to include her in his non-pranking efforts, sitting with her and chatting about whatever it was she happened to be reading at the time. She was a nice girl, even if she was some times really annoying, and he knew that she could be very useful when it came to more inventive pranks. With some coaxing.
As Halloween came near, the twins approached Harry with a challenge.
"So, ickle Harry," Fred said, "you seem to be fitting in pretty easily." He watched two second year girls from their house walk passed with large pink rabbit ears before turning back to Harry with a raised eye brow.
"But is that the best you can do?" asked George. "Really? Rabbit ears?"
Harry sighed. "The ears are merely the first volley in what I imagine is now going to evolve into a prank war with you two."
"Are we so predictable?" asked George, pretending to be wounded by the possibility.
Harry grinned. "I live with Sirius Black and Remus Lupin; of course I can smell a looming prank war!"
"Do they ever team up on you?" asked Fred curiously.
"Only when I use appliances," Harry said evenly.
"What?" asked George incredulously. "Appliances?"
He nodded cheerfully. "So far, I've used the toaster, the cold cabinet, and the oven against them."
The twins looked at each other, grinning like maniacs, before looking back at him.
"So it's on?" asked Fred gleefully.
"Yes indeed," agreed Harry. "Rules?"
"None!" George exclaimed.
"No holds barred, then?" the first year asked, a smile creeping across his lips the twins would learn to fear.
"None at all," George and Fred chorused.
"Of course," Fred said, "We'll go easy on you for a bit, you being a little first year and all."
The grin widened.
And so began the most terrifying two weeks for the Hogwarts community in many years. At first, no one was quite sure who was doing what. It didn't quite smell like the twins' handy work the first morning – it was entirely too tame – featuring fake vomit and wiggling dog leavings strewn down the hallways, but the Gryffindors were aware there was something brewing between the Weasley twins and Harry Potter. Potter was only a first year, so maybe they were going easy on him? Rabbit ears weren't very impressive, certainly, but they were better than this.
Harry easily out matched them that first two days, charming their hair blue and their books to recite some strange religious book devoted to the goddess Eris every time they opened them, but soon the twins caught on and upped the anty. The pranks escalated to include the dorm mates of both parties involved, driving Percy mad along the way.
Breakfast the fifth day found the twins compelled to sing love songs to "Deacon Malfoy" in falsetto (to Malfoy's complete horror). Lunch found Harry forced to wear a fluffy purple tutu and ballet slippers as he tip toed through the halls, and dinner involved a song and dance by the twins after they drank their pumpkin juice. That Saturday, Harry was compelled to recite terrible one-liners and innuendos all day long. Sunday found the twins wearing moose antlers which exuded bubbles with every breath, and then they realized that running produced huge bubbles. They spent the morning and afternoon running as much as possible, releasing enormous bubbles that refused to pop and floated all around the castle. Harry, on the other hand, was compelled to deal out cards like a hustler and appear to smoke a large chocolate cigar.
By Friday morning, Percy was on the edge of a breakdown and his left eye twitched uncontrollably every time he looked at his brothers or Harry. Harry took it in stride, suggesting he get his knickers out of knot and relax before the mud cemented around his stick. Percy then assigned a detention to him. With Snape.
Harry was perfectly willing to serve a detention, but he'd be damned if he'd serve it under Snape. After privately promising to cut the pranking short, Percy relented and assigned him to Flitwick, where he'd be scraping gum and boogers off the undersides to desks for two hours on Halloween night. Harry grumbled, mostly because it was expected of him, but didn't fight it.
He observed the twins watching him suspiciously, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and Harry decided this was much more fun. They'd be paranoid all weekend.
When dinner arrived, Harry was dressed as a vampire, complete with fake, poorly applied fangs, hair slicked back with shoe polish, and a bat-like cape to the amusement of many of his classmates.
"Velcome, velcome!" Harry said as his friends slowly approached their usual place at the table. "Velcome to this great repast. Do seet down and have a liddle drink," he said with a brief leer for Hermione.
She rolled her eyes. "Ok, Dracula. Cut the act, hm?"
Harry pretended to pout for a moment as everyone settled down and then aburptly hissed as the twins passed behind Hermione and Dean, showing his teeth.
They rolled their eyes in unison and continued on their way without breaking step.
"Got any more pranks we should know about?" asked Seamus warily.
"Ahh, zat vould be ruinink ze game, no?" Harry responded easily to a communal groan. He merely laughed and waited impatiently for his first Hogwarts Halloween feast.
Sometime later, and feeling very full, Harry leaned back from the table to contemplate the ceiling.
"Had enough, have you?" asked Hermione with amusement.
"Oh yes," Harry said, rubbing his belly absently. "Any more and I might explode." He mimed an explosion with his hands. "And that wouldn't be pretty."
"But it would fit with your costume," pointed out Dean, gesturing with his yam-laden fork.
"True," Harry agreed, now looking like he was thinking about it. "And it would make for a hell of an encore."
"Troll! In the dungeon!" came a high pitched scream. Every head in the hall whipped to look at the source of the noise, to see a faint-looking Quirell swaying the doorway. He seemed to say something else, but Harry was too far away to hear it, and with that the man collapsed.
Chaos erupted in the hall, screams and yells bouncing off the walls and ceiling.
"SILENCE!" called the Headmaster. To Harry's great surprise, it fell, and then the man issued several crisp orders. Moments later found his sitting in the common room with his classmates and face to face with an angry redhead.
"I thought you said you weren't going to prank anymore!" Percy yelled at him.
"I specified this prank war and I haven't broken my word!" Harry yelled back. "And why on earth would I bring a bloody troll into the school?"
"I don't know," Percy sneered, "pretty hard to top a troll, isn't it?"
Harry snapped back. "I do not want to hurt anyone. I do not want to get expelled, and bringing a troll into the school is a damn good way to get both that!"
It was here that McGonagall intervened. "What's this about?" she asked frostily.
"Potter here brought a troll into the school," Percy told her, jabbing an accusatory finger at him.
"I did no such thing!" Harry snarled. "I would never do something like that!"
McGonagall's eyes narrowed. "Come with me."
"But I didn't bring that stupid troll here!" Harry protested as his teacher turned around.
She looked back at him over her shoulder. "I said come with me."
Harry thought very hard about punching Percy there and then, preferably in the mouth, but he kept his hands to himself as he followed his teacher up the winding steps and long hallways to the Headmaster's office.
"Sugardaddy," McGonagall muttered to the gargoyle that sat at the mouth of the stairwell and he followed her up to the carpeted landing of Dumbledore's office. The man wasn't there yet, but Harry imagined he would be soon enough.