The Sugar Quill
Author: Rainbow  Story: The Echinodermaga  Chapter: 1: The Prank
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It all started on the Monday before Halloween.

 

"Psst!" James hissed in Remus's ear.  "Sirius fancies Kathryn.  Pass it on."

 

"Everybody knows that."

 

"Kathryn doesn't.  Pass it on."

 

Remus grinned wickedly and passed it on.

 

"I do not!" Sirius protested.

 

"Do too.  Just about everybody knows that."

 

"Do not!"

 

"Do too!"  James began listing the reasons that everyone in the year (except Kathryn Michels and her best friends, Lily Evans and Adriana Schwartz) knew that Sirius was madly in love with her.  The list turned out to be almost as tedious as the lecture Professor Binns (who, of course, never noticed a thing) was giving.

 

Remus listened to the message spread throughout the classroom.  When it finally reached Adriana, she nearly fell off her chair in a fit of giggles.  "What?" Lily and Kathryn asked together, but their friend was laughing too hard to reply.

 

"I hate getting left out of a joke," Kathryn complained.

 

"Calm down, or you'll start hyperventilating," Lily warned.  She didn't sound overly concerned; Adriana's "daily laughing fits" were famous throughout the school.

 

The girl on the other side of Lily whispered in her ear.  Lily giggled and said to Kathryn in a loud whisper that carried through the room, "Sirius fancies you."

 

Kathryn's reply also carried through the room.  "Oh, he does, does he?" she said indifferently.

 

If it was possible, Adriana laughed harder.  Sirius, on the other hand, looked slightly crestfallen.

 

"Reason fourteen," Peter interrupted James, "the look on your face right now."

 

Remus snuck another look at the girls, noting that Adriana had not stopped laughing.  He saw Kathryn shoot Sirius a furtive glance bafore making another futile attempt to calm Adriana down.  "You know," he said thoughtfully, "she might fancy you too.  In fact . . . I think she does."

 

Sirius brightened.  "Really?  You think?"  James and Peter snickered.  "Oh, shut up."

 

"Yeah," Remus said, "she just doesn't show it.  You know, Siri, you do like to let the world know how you feel.  Unless -- " he added, seeing Sirius open his mouth furiously, "you're busy denying it."

 

"Thinking of becoming a what-cha-ma-call-it -- one of those Muggle nutters -- a psychiatrist?" James asked.

 

"Yep," Remus said cheerfully.

 

"No, he should have a column in the Daily Prophet," Sirius suggested, obviously glad to get the subject off himself.  "People can write in to him with their problems."

 

"Like . . . you?"

 

"No, I don't have problems."

 

"He has issues."

 

"No, he's in denial.  Right, Siri?"

 

"Absolutely!" Sirius laughed.

 

For the rest of the interminable class, Sirius and Kathryn kept sneaking glances at each other from their respective ends of the room.  Professor Binns continued with his lecture and never noticed the little drama unfolding in front of him.

 

"Honestly," Lily could be heard to say as they finally left the room, "you could put a neon sign over his head and he wouldn't notice."

 

Simultaneously, James's and Sirius's eyes lit up.  Remus grinned. 

 

"What's neon?" Peter wanted to know.

 

"Probably some Muggle thing.  Anyways, who cares?" James said airily.  "A sign . . . maybe we could make it blink on and off . . . ?"

 

"There's that charm Flitwick mentioned last week," Remus said thoughtfully.  "Oskeelo, or something . . ."

 

"Doesn't that have to be set up beforehand?"

 

"Excellent," Sirius said gleefully.  "A night prank."

 

"Oh, no," Peter said fearfully.

 

"Relax, we have my dad's -- " James started to say, but Remus shushed him.

 

"You want people to know?  That fifth year over there's a prefect!" he warned.

 

"I wonder if one of us will be prefect," Peter said.

 

"The idea!"  James looked horrified.

 

"Irrelevant comment, Peter," Remus announced.

 

"Oh, that's ages away," Sirius said.

 

"Only two years!" James said, still bothered by the notion.

 

"Yeah, that's ages!"

 

"In the big scheme of things . . . "

 

"We're not talking about the big scheme of things!"

 

"It's still not that long."

 

"Yes, it is!"

 

"No, it's not!"

 

"Yes!"

 

"No!"

 

"Yes!"

 

"No!"

 

"How can we get so far off the subject?" Remus demanded.  "Was there ever a point to this conversation?"

 

"Of course," said Sirius, surprised.  "A night prank.  Tonight.  And yes."

 

"No!"

 

"Yes!"

 

"No!"

 

"Will you two please cut it out?  This argument has no point!"

 

"Yes!"

 

"No!"

 

"That is the point, Remus.  They're arguing about nothing as usual."

 

"Yes!"

 

"No!"

 

"Yes!"

 

"No!"

 

"Ye -- "

 

"SHUT UP!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late that night, firelight flickered over the countless armchairs and tables of the Gryffindor common room.  The room appeared to be deserted. 

 

Of course, appearances could be deceiving.

 

"Ouch!" Peter hissed as James accidentally stepped on his toes.  "Look, why are we all under this thing?  I'll stay here."

 

"No," Sirius said firmly, "you're com -- "

 

"Wait," said Remus suddenly.  "Guys -- let's . . . let's not do this."

 

"What?" said Sirius and James together, throwing off the Invisibility Cloak.

 

"I said, let's not do this.  I have a bad feeling.  Something horrible's going to happen, I just know it."

 

There was silence for a moment.  "Remus, you stink at Divination," Sirius reminded him.

 

"I don't even take Divination."

 

"Exactly!"

 

"But if he doesn't take it, he could be very good at it and not know it," James pointed out logically.  "And people who stink at Divination usually don't have visions, or premonitions, or whatever-you-want-to-call-em's."

 

"Not a vision," Remus said.  "If it was a vision I'd know what's going to happen."

 

"A premonition then."

 

"The future can be changed," Sirius said firmly.  "Besides, what's the worst that could happen?"

 

"Detention," Peter pointed out.  "What if we got caught by Hatabie?  That could be pretty horrible."

 

The boys shuddered.  Professor Hatabie was the new Potions Master, and no-one liked him at all.  He could be downright cruel to some of the students.

 

"But it's worth it if we set up the prank," James said finally.

 

"And spectacularly humiliate Binns," Sirius added.

 

"Due to our misfortune in having History of Magic two days in a row," James concluded.

 

They both looked at Remus, knowing that if he insisted on their forgoing the prank completely, they would.

 

For his part, Remus was uncertain.  He did have a bad feeling, but their arguments were (for once) logical . . . and it would be fun . . . and like Sirius said, what was the worst that could happen?  Remus still didn't like it, but Sirius was putting on his puppy-dog face, and he could never say no to that without feeling completely cruel . . . .   Against his better judgement, Remus nodded.

 

"You sure it's okay?" James asked cautiously.

 

Remus wasn't at all sure, but he nodded again.  Really, when they put it the way they did, he couldn't let them down.

 

"All right then," Sirius said, holding up the cloak.

 

"I still don't think we should all squeeze under that thing," Peter said.

 

"Come on, Pete," James said.  "We have to stick together."

 

"All for one and one for all," Sirius added.  Everybody stared at him.  "What?"

 

"You read The Three Musketeers?" Remus couldn't help asking.

 

Sirius shrugged.  "It annoys my mum and dad."

 

"Um . . . why would reading some book I never heard of annoy your parents?" James asked.

 

"The Three Musketeers.  It's a Muggle book."

 

" . . . Ah."

 

"Let's make that our motto," Peter suggested, breaking the sudden tension.  "Three Musketeers, four Marauders . . . it's cool."

 

"All for one and one for all?"  James asked.

 

"What else would I be talking about?"

 

"Nothing, 'cept that would mean you'd have to get under the cloak."  James grinned wickedly.

 

Peter opened his mouth to protest, realized he had been defeated, and closed it again.

 

"Let's go."  Sirius picked up the cloak, threw it over the four of them, and they climbed out the portrait hole.

 

They met absolutely nobody on the way to the History of Magic classroom, which Remus found slightly unnerving and the others seemed not to notice at all.  The prank was successfully set up and the way back to Gryffindor Tower was also uneventful, unless you counted a close shave with Filch's cat -- which the boys certainly didn't.  After all, they got away, and Peter only knocked over one suit of armor in the process.

 

"See?" Sirius crowed triumphantly as they threw off the cloak in the saftey of the common room.  "Nothing happened!"

 

"Yet," Remus muttered.

 

 

 

 

"This is bothering me," Adriana said quietly as she pushed Lily's scroll forward an inch or so.  Lily and Kathryn looked at each other and burst out laughing, while Adriana tried not to grin but failed.

 

It was Tuesday morning and the girls had gotten to History of Magic rather early for no particular reason, only that Kathryn had woken up early and knocked over a stack of books, waking up the others and giving Gryffindor's third year girls an early start to the day.

 

"You're weird," Lily said to Adriana once she had recovered her composure.

 

"Thank you," Adriana said cheerfully.

 

"Insane," Kathryn added.  "Always and forever."

 

Adriana shook her head.  "Only some of the time," she reminded them.

 

"Of course," Lily said.  "Pay no attention to this jerk."  She gave Kathryn a shove.  "If you were insane all the time, you'd be like them."

 

The girls shuddered.  "Them" was their unofficial code word for the four Gryffindor boys.

 

"I wonder if they're ever serious," Adriana began, following a well-worn path of conversation.

 

"No, never!" Lily and Kathryn chorused.

 

They giggled.

 

"These seats taken?" said a voice from above them.  Kathryn looked up to see James Potter looking at her expectantly and burst into a fresh wave of giggles.

 

James rolled his eyes.  "I said, are these seats taken?" he repeated, unusually patient.

 

"Well, no," Kathryn said uncertainly.  Why would they want to sit at the front of the room, much less near the girls?  Lily and Adriana looked just as confused.  Kathryn raised her eyebrows at them and turned back to the boys, gazing thoughtfully at Sirius as he sat down.

 

She wasn't sure what her feelings for him were.  Actually, she hadn't thought about it before she had heard that he fancied her.

 

He was cute, she supposed -- at least, Margaret and Shannon, the other third year Gryffindor girls, thought he was.  Kathryn made a face, listening to them giggle behind her.

 

Not that there was anything wrong with giggling -- Merlin knew Kathryn and her friends did it enough.  No, it was just that Margaret and Shannon were undoubtably giggling about them.

 

Not that there was anything wrong with that either; much as she hated the boys, Kathryn had to admit they could be rather amusing.   The boys and the girls had actually been friends as first years, and had spent most of the year laughing at each other.  She just didn't see how the girls' whispers of "He's so cute!" made them giggle.  "Cute" to Kathryn and her friends meant little kids and baby animals, not incredibly annoying thirteen-year-olds.  How was Sirius's hair "cute", anyway?

 

Kathryn wondered idly how she had got so far off her original subject.  Sirius noticed her staring at him and waved -- from two meters away.  She shuddered and turned away to find Adriana shaking her head with a small smile on her face.

 

"What?"

 

"You know, Kattie, if you don't stop staring at him so much people might think you like him too."

 

"Don't call me that," Kathryn huffed, shoving her.

 

"Why are you staring at him anyway?"

 

"Because it's very oddly intriguing when a guy likes you!"

 

"So . . . you don't like him?"

 

"What?  No, are you kidding, I hate him!"

 

"'Hate' is a very strong word."

 

"Arrgh!"

 

Hard as it was, the two girls kept their conversation to whispers as the boys argued loudly, Margaret and Shannon giggled, Lily checked over her Potions essay for the fifteenth time, and the Ravenclaws, with whom the Gryffindors shared all History lessons, talked and compared notes.

 

Once Professor Binns started the lesson, everybody tried valiantly to take notes, but most returned to their former activities within ten minutes, albeit a bit more quietly.  Several Ravenclaws, as well as Lily, managed to pay attention until five minutes before the end of the lesson.  It was then that, next to Kathryn, James Potter pulled out his wand.

 

She glanced at him, tearing her attention away from her game of tic-tac-toe.  Her opponent, Adriana, also looked over, plainly wondering why he would need his wand in the middle of a History lesson.

 

Their unspoken questions were soon answered.  James grinned and winked at them before pointing his wand somewhere over Professor Binns's head and whispering an incantation that they couldn't catch.

 

Instantly, the words DEAD BORING appeared over the ghost's head, complete with arrows pointing right to him.

 

The class erupted in silent laughter, not daring to make too much noise.  Adriana really did fall off her chair this time. 

 

Unfortunately, Professor Hatabie chose that moment to step through the door, carrying a stack of papers.  His cold grey eyes took in the words over the teachers head, as well as the laughing class and James slipping his wand back into his pocket.  "Detention, Mr. Potter," he said quietly.  James, along with the whole class, looked up in surprise.  "You will meet me in the entrance hall tomorrow night at five," the professor continued.

 

"But sir," James said, regaining his composure, "There's an emergency Chaser practice tomorrow night.  Could I do it on Thurs -- "

 

"Too late," Hatabie snapped.

 

"Tonight, then?"

 

"No!" the professor growled.  "No night but tomorrow will do.  Five o'clock.  Understood?"

 

"Yes," James mumbled.

 

Professor Hatabie dropped his papers on an empty desk by the door and left the room.

 

Everybody except James started laughing again.

 

"Man, he's -- I don't know -- kind of abrupt, isn't he?" Lily giggled. 

 

It was only then that Professor Binns looked up and asked, "Is something wrong?"

 

Everybody fell silent, trying hard to keep straight faces.

 

Professor Binns shrugged and returned to his lecture.  

//
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