A/n: This was written for the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition. The team prompt chosen for our team, the Falmouth Falcons, was the Marauders, and my individual prompt as Captain is to write about a "prankster".
Remember When: The Prank
One dreary afternoon in Grimmauld Place
"Moony, remember when Prongs and I pulled that prank on Snivellus in our first year?" Sirius asked as he examined the pistachio nut he had just cracked open.
Remus glanced across the room at Severus, who had chosen to ignore his and Sirius's presence in favour of a book he was reading. When the other man continued to show them no signs of acknowledgement, Remus turned back to Sirius and asked, "Which one?"
"Yes, do tell," said a clipped voice from across the room.
Remus sighed as he turned to look at Severus, stretching a hand out to push back Sirius, who was moving to rise out of his seat. He shot a tired glare at Severus, who only shut his book with a snap and eyed them sideways.
"I have a list of every single prank you and Potter have pulled," Severus drawled, paying Remus no heed, "but I suppose my memory could use a little refreshing."
"Oh, shut up, Snivellus," Sirius snapped as he pushed Remus's hand aside. Turning to face Remus, Sirius said, "Don't you remember, Moony? That time you tattled on us?"
"I did not tattle!" Remus retorted before he could stop himself, and Sirius grinned.
"So you do remember…"
James peered around a pillar, dark eyes searching for a familiar mop of grease and slime. A wide grin spread across his face as he spotted the lanky boy, and he fingered his wand in his pocket, practicing the incantation they had learnt that week in Charms class. Glancing across the courtyard, he gave a thumbs up before walking around the pillar and towards his target.
Severus Snape—or Snivellus, as Sirius and James had nicknamed the snivelling git—was sitting under a tree behind the courtyard, his hooked nose buried in a thick text. Grin still in place, James strode over to the boy and stood a few feet away—close enough to be heard, but far enough that he could easily move out of the way if something was thrown at him.
"Morning, Snivellus," he said in a loud voice, snickering when Snape's shoulders went rigid. "Friendless as always, I see." The boy didn't look up from his book, but James knew he had Snape's attention. "Seeing as you've got time to spare, wanna do some Charms practice with me?" he asked, trying to sound as un-condescending as he could.
Snape didn't reply. He only clutched his book tighter and ducked behind it. Anybody else would've taken that as a sign that the mop-haired boy wanted to be left alone and backed off, but not James. James had every intention of irritating Snape until he got what he had come for.
"Snivelluuus," he drawled. "Don't be such a stick in the mud. Come practice with me!"
No response. James grinned.
He glanced towards the courtyard when he noticed a familiar form move closer, then returned his attention to Snape. "How did it go again?" he asked casually, twirling his wand in his fingers. "Swish and flick, right?"
James watched as Snape's eyebrows furrowed, but by the time the slimeball realised what he was up to, James had already pointed his wand at the book before waving it and saying, "Wingardium Leviosa!"
Sirius watched from across the courtyard as James shot him a quick thumbs-up before making his way towards a nearby tree.
"Morning, Snivellus," Sirius heard James say, and he stifled a laugh as he made his way to the farthest wall so he could see better.
The hook-nosed Slytherin sat hunched over some worn book, as always, and James looked down at him, a superior grin on his face, as he continued to speak. Just then, James glanced towards where Sirius was hiding for a moment, and Sirius prepared himself, anticipation thrumming through him.
As he watched, James drew his wand and waved it in the familiar motion of the Levitation Charm. There was an angry shout followed by a gleeful yell, and James levitated Snivellus's text right out of his hands and towards the Black Lake. "Will you look at that? I did it!" James yelled as he jogged away, book bobbing along behind him.
There was scrambling as Snivellus got to his feet and chased after James, demanding for his text. Sirius waited until the two had moved away from the tree before he quietly made his way to it. Peering around it, he grinned as he watched James laugh and say, "C'mon, Snivy," to the red-faced Slytherin, who was jumping up and down in a desperate attempt to grab his book out of the air.
"Give it back, Potter!"
"Alright, alright," James conceded, lowering his wand just as Sirius crept up behind Snivellus. The little snake sighed in relief as he reached up to catch his book, but James chose that moment to swish his wand to the left, sending the text careening towards the lake, where it hovered dangerously close to the water.
Snivellus's head snapped to the side, his eyes bulging out of his pale face, and Sirius decided that was the right moment. He pulled the hood of his robes low over his face and jumped forward, screaming bloody murder, causing both boys to jump back.
The slimy git tripped and fell back, and Sirius drew his arms up as he stood over the boy, still screaming. His face white as a sheet, Snivellus yelled in fright and scrambled backwards. Sirius continued to scream, containing his laughter as he saw James double over from the corner of his eyes, shaking uncontrollably and dropping his wand in the process.
Sirius watched as, behind Snivellus, the heavy book, no longer held airborne by magic, plummeted downwards, its pages flapping about, and, with a resounding splash, landed in the lake.
Remus started awake at the sound of a blood-curdling scream. Panicking, he scrambled to his feet and looked around, sleep still clouding his senses and making him process things much slower than usual. He squinted as he spotted three people nearby, standing a little too close to the edge of the Great Lake. Someone dressed in black robes, the hood pulled over their eyes and their arms held above their head, stood over a frightened-looking boy—whom Remus recognised from their joint classes as The-Sullen-Slytherin-Who-Was-Good-At-Potions.
Yawning, he cracked his neck and berated himself for falling asleep outside again. But the sun was just so nice and warm, and the grass was so soft, he argued with himself as he watched the trio, curious as to what they were up to.
He recognised James Potter when the Gryffindor turned around and doubled over. He was laughing so hard that he dropped his wand, and as Remus watched, a rather thick book fell from mid-air and straight into the lake. Mouth agape, he rushed towards them, the very thought of an important textbook falling into the Great Lake as collateral damage from a silly prank making his blood boil.
"Stop it!" he yelled as the pale-faced Slytherin crept to the edge of the lake and peered down. "You'll fall in! Hey!"
But the trio were paying him no heed. The black-hooded boy—whom Remus had surmised was Sirius Black, considering he and Potter always came in a set and were renowned as the First Year Pranksters—was cackling and throwing careless insults at the kneeling Slytherin. Potter, meanwhile, was all but rolling on the grass in laughter.
"Hey!" Remus yelled again as Black nudged the Slytherin—whom he was calling 'Snivellus'—with the toe of his shoe. The boy teetered, the arm that he had reached down in an attempt to fish out the book splashing about, and he would have fallen in if Remus hadn't made it in time and pulled him back by his collar.
"Are you alright?" he asked the boy, who nodded weakly, his face white as a sheet. He sat clutching the wet book to his chest, the familiar Hogwarts Library seal glistening on the cover, seemingly in shock. Once he had made sure the Slytherin wasn't injured, Remus rounded on Black and Potter. "What the hell were you thinking?" he yelled, silencing the laughing duo. "He could've been seriously hurt!"
"Siriusly hurt," Potter choked out, looking at Black, and the two doubled over in another fit of laughter.
"This is no laughing matter!" Remus fumed, crossing his arms. "That's a library book! Do you know how much trouble you two are in?"
That effectively shut the troublesome twosome up, and they stared at Remus wide-eyed.
"You're not going to tell on us, are you?" Black asked in a serious voice, as though the very idea was preposterous.
"I have half a mind to!" Remus snapped, the usual post-full moon tiredness finally hitting home now that the initial adrenaline rush had worn off.
"But—But he's a slime-faced Slytherin!" Black retorted, as though that was reason enough to convince Remus otherwise.
"You nearly destroyed a library book in your shenanigans! Him being a Slytherin has nothing to do with it!"
"Ohh," Potter said as he sat cross-legged. He grinned up at Remus. "That's no problem, then."
Remus blinked. "Wha—"
Peter watched as Lupin berated Potter and Black, a mix of anxiousness and excitement forming a knot in his stomach.
He had overheard Potter and Black discussing their plan to pull a prank on Snape—whom Peter hated wholeheartedly because of what a bully he was—earlier that day. Although he didn't have the courage to ask if he could join in on the fun, he still wanted to be a part of the prank in some way and had followed the two when they had left the common room.
Having witnessed Potter's flawless execution of the Levitation Charm and Black's rather childish but successful attempt at scaring Snape, Peter had taken a moment to cheer them on and quietly relish the look on Snape's face. He was pulled out of his reverie when he saw Lupin rush towards them, just in time to save Snape from falling headfirst into the lake.
Peter paled, glad that Lupin had stepped in before things had taken a turn for the worst. Although he looked up to Potter and Black, they did tend to take things a little too far sometimes, in the name of good fun. Peter now had newfound respect for the rather frail-looking, constantly tired Lupin.
As he watched from his place behind a tree, he saw Snape slip a hand into his pocket and pull out his wand. With a gasp, he realised that Lupin, Potter and Black weren't paying any attention to the wily Slytherin. Peter deliberated for a moment, wondering if he should come out from his hiding spot and do something before Snape did. He almost chickened out, but drawing on his Gryffindor courage, he rushed out from behind the tree, yelling to the three boys to look out.
Potter was the first to react. He grabbed his wand and pointed it at Snape, who immediately dropped his own and held his book in front of him like a shield. Black used the opportunity to confiscate Snape's wand and point it at its owner. Lupin tried to reason with the two as he came to stand in front of Snape, and in that time, Snape managed to push past Lupin and get away from the trio. Peter, in his panic, flailed about, unsure of what to do.
"Catch him, Pettigrew!"
Peter started, reacting to Black's order by jumping at Snape, pulling him down by his legs and causing the two to tumble to the ground. He heard cheers as the other boys raced towards them, and two pairs of hands extricated him from Snape. He looked up to see a grinning Black and a horrified Lupin. The former patted him on the back before turning to Snape.
"Listen here, Snivellus," Potter was saying as he grabbed the book from Snape's hands and held it out of reach. "You'd be in big trouble if word got out that you not only pointed your wand threateningly at your classmates, but also destroyed a precious library book, now, wouldn't it?"
Snape only grated his teeth in response. Potter smirked. "That's what I thought."
"But don't worry," Black added. "We won't tell if you don't."
Snape glowered at the two and finally muttered, "Gimme back my book."
"What, this old thing?" Potter held it out but pulled it away when Snape reached for it. "Isn't there a nicer way to ask for a favour?"
Black sniggered, taking the book from Potter and waving it just out of reach of Snape's hands. "C'mon, Snivy. What's the magic word?"
Snape bared his teeth and spat, "Give it back, you miserable dingbat."
Black's eyes flashed with anger, and he raised the book over his head as though to strike a cowering Snape, but Lupin snatched the book out of Black's hand and held it out of reach, his face a furious red.
"Stop playing with the book, you damn fools!"
"You were so mad," Sirius said with a chuckle as he crunched on his pistachio nut. "And for all the wrong reasons, too."
Remus flushed, frowning at his best friend. "We got into plenty of trouble with the librarian and McGonagall, thanks to you two."
Sirius shrugged. "It's not like it couldn't be fixed, so really, you were furious for no reason."
Remus was about to retort, but Severus beat him to it. "Ironic, though, isn't it?" he drawled as he flipped his book open. "That bullying the weak is what brought you four together and ripped you apart."
Before Remus could stop him, Sirius had sprung out of his chair with a growl, his face twisted in a nasty snarl. "Say that again, I dare you."
"Sirius, stop it," Remus managed as he tried to placate his friend. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Severus look at Sirius coldly.
"I daresay you know it very well, even without me having to."
Sirius reached for his wand, but Remus caught his wrist before he could. When dark eyes full of pain and fury turned to meet his, he gave his friend a beseeching look. "Please," he said. Neither of them needed to re-open newly sealed and still aching wounds. Especially not now.
There was a clatter, and they watched as Severus rose from his chair. Without sparing them a second glance, he exited the room, leaving the two staring at the empty doorway.
"—and I'm telling you, it wasn't funny!"
"It was hilarious. You just don't have a sense of humour."
They were pulled out of their thoughts as a fuming Hermione and a laughing Ron entered the dining room, followed by an exasperated-looking Harry, who immediately perked up at the sight of Sirius and Remus.
"Oh great, you're here," he said as he made his way towards them. "I'm tired of having to listen to their never-ending bickering."
"What happened now?" Remus asked, grateful for the well-timed distraction. He watched Ron tug Hermione's hair playfully, causing her to go red in the face and slap his hand away.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Fred and George were up to their usual tricks, and some of Hermione's books got a little roughed up—"
"A little?" Hermione screeched, interrupting Harry. "One of the covers nearly fell off!"
"So what?" Ron interjected. "It didn't even take you a minute to mend it."
"That's not the point, Ron!"
"You need to ease up, Hermione, or your head's going to explode."
Harry rolled his eyes again and turned back to Remus and Sirius. "See what I have to deal with on a daily basis?"
That caused the two wizards to share a knowing grin, and Sirius shushed the squabbling duo by saying, "Alright, children, settle down. This old man's got a story for you."
"A story?" Hermione asked, her eyes shining with curiosity as she and Ron came to sit in front of Sirius.
"That's right. It's a story of the time when we were in school, before we became the Marauders." Glancing around at the three curious faces, he shot Remus a secret smile before beginning his story. "Remember when…"