Hi! I'm Tupper. You might remember me from such other fics like Bertie Bott's Beans—The Magical Fruit and the hit musical Alohomora This. (Note: these are fictional fictions—they do not exist. If you read this and then go checking for them anyway…I pity you. Have a Bertie Bean.) Actually, this is my first Marauders fic (I know that some nitpicky folks argue that it's the map being referred to and not the actual trouble-makers of Hogwart's disco days [In which case I humbly disclaim both.]) I don't really care.
In any case, this will be fairly serious in some parts and fairly stupid in others. The good kind of stupid, if there is one.
This chapter is brought to you by courtesy of the Dizzy Whizbees—an almost-no-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of vertigo.
Biagra: Spice up your love life with the Love Potion #69! Minors, pretend you didn't understand that.
The House of Wolves
The cozy Gryffindor room, with the cheerful fire throwing warm glows on happily chatting students in plush armchairs, was one of sanctuary; where a haggard student could rest after a long day's sleeping in various classrooms, their own snores waking them up just briefly enough to jot down a few notes before falling asleep again.
It was also the perfect plotting place. Peter was relaxed in the oversized chair, not really realizing that he was slowly sinking into it. This particular chair had somewhat of an infamous reputation for swallowing students whole and spitting them back out covered in stuffing fluff. The other Marauders didn't bother to tell him—he'd figure it out soon enough.
The three in mention had their heads bowed over a piece of parchment, whispering. Occasionally snatches of conversation like "No, no, he's only mildly allergic to that—let's try lobsters" and "Speaking of flea collars, Remus—ow!" would drift across to the other students poring over textbooks. They would look up, sigh, and wish that it was them. Peter was content to wallow in his chair—although it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep posture; what a strange feeling—and listen. He couldn't always follow them anyway.
James shook his head. "It won't work without a distraction."
Remus frowned, uneasy with the look James was suddenly giving him. "I'm not doing something like that again."
Sirius sniggered. "Really, Remus—no one knew you could play the ukulele and dance the hula like that. That one belly dancer girl even came up and told you how graceful that was, remember?"
"That was Professor Parka."
Sirius waved his hand dismissively. "Doesn't matter. It worked, didn't it?"
Remus glanced at him, unsure of his sanity. "I'm not doing it."
"Doesn't matter," James said airily. "I've wanted to call my favor from Peeves for a while now. He owes me for the thing with the parrots."
Further discussion was cut as it was time for dinner; the students in the common room filed out of the portrait hole. James and Sirius winked simultaneously at the Fat Lady as they exited, causing her to blush and fervently smooth her dress.
"She's a bit old for you, isn't she?" Peter commented. The two didn't answer, but merely grinned and shrugged nonchalantly. James reached a hand up to his hair and scrubbed it, making the hair stand on end more than ever. Peter looked enviously at him. James and Sirius always seemed to be in the spotlight, and everyone knew it—girls stared admiringly, boys wanted to be in their inner circle.
The Great Hall was as bright as ever, with the thousands of candles suspended motionless in the air—a real fire hazard, Peter had thought, if they ever fell—under a still light sky. They all sat down at their usual seats and grabbed anything within reach, Sirius especially—he hadn't been able to eat that morning, what with their latest experiment of voice modifying. They had successfully changed his voice to sound exactly like Bolly Berkin's nasal whine, but had somehow managed to shrink his stomach, along with his ears.
The Marauders chatted among themselves, occasionally holding conversations with whoever was fortunate enough to be within speaking range of them. Most of it, this time, was further congratulations in regards to James, who had assisted the Gryffindor team in slaughtering the Slytherins the previous Saturday.
Remus, with some interest, noted that James was not responding to the compliments with his usual enthusiasm. Instead, he was eating edgily, sneaking moody looks across the table. Remus turned slightly and saw that James was looking at a boy from the Ravenclaw table; who he recognized but didn't know the name of. The boy was leaning in to talk among his friends, but more like he was whispering in class than talking freely at lunch. Every so often the boy would turn and shoot a glance over at where the Marauders sat. Remus turned to James.
"Friend of yours?" he asked lightly.
James frowned and stirred his mashed potatoes. "He wishes."
All through dinner, the boy—and then the group included—continued their unnerving gait, whispering and then staring pointedly at James. He slunk lower in his seat and became increasingly irritable. It was only until after dinner ended—and James had made a rude gesture with his hands at the offending boys—that he lightened up and went back to his old self. He and Sirius were happily plotting away, still intent on using Remus' ukulele abilities for a distraction. After a bit, the poor boy decided he was too tired to argue and just sat back watching (carefully avoiding the Eating Chair). Sometimes Blotter (as sometimes Black and Potter were called, seeing as they were nearly inseparable) were more entertaining than a book.
"Professor Parka winked at you during dinner, Moonshine," Sirius announced to him. "I think that's why she's been caking on the lipstick lately. We'll have to check your collar every night, now." James nodded solemnly.
"We must protect you from corruption," he said gravely. "We're the only bad influences you're allowed to have."
"Speaking of bad influences," Sirius mused thoughtfully, "I think Peeves has been trying to outdo us. The first-year snotrags are more frightened of him than they are us."
James looked indignant. "We can't have that. Tomorrow, we terrorize."
Remus thought briefly about arguing, but then decided against it, as he figured that the approaching redhead would be more than willing to do it for him. Lily Evans marched up, dark red hair tossed over her shoulder. "You are not going to bludgeon first-years," she snapped.
James looked mystified. "No?"
"No, you won't. I can't believe you'd try to frighten first-years. Get a kick out of tormenting anybody smaller than you, do you?"
Blotter was deeply affronted.
"I don't see how you could say that," Sirius said.
James nodded. "This is about territory, Evans."
Lily scowled. "You're just as bad as all those Slytherins you hate—you know that, right?"
"It's impossible to sink to their level," James sneered. The argument had gotten the attention of several students, and they hung on to every word. Some nodded in agreement. "I could do so much worse."
Lily's hand dropped down to her pocket, where her wand was. "I don't care. You're not going to do anything to them—clear?" Her voice was threatening and Peter quailed, willing himself to be invisible.
"Opaque," said Sirius. "Go away, Evans." Blotter resolutely turned their backs on Lily, who fumed for a minute, and finally gave an exasperated sigh and angrily walked away.
Remus tried to hide a smile with little success, and Peter was looking even more admiring that Blotter could stand up to that death-gaze of Lily's. "You know, Prongs," Remus said pleasantly, "it's going to be difficult to convince her to go out with you when she hates the ground you walk on."
"She'll come around," James said easily, and he and Sirius turned back to their work.
The next morning came with fresh sunlight and fresh ideas. Remus was used to the daily bursts of creativity from Blotter, relating pranks that they had pulled in their dreams. Every morning seemed to bring up something even more bizarre than the day before.
The same gaggle of students from the day before were speaking in hushed tones when the Marauders entered the slowly filling hall. They nodded at James as he passed, who pretended that they didn't exist. He kept on marching to the Gryffindor table, and stared determinedly down at his plate, as though fascinated by all the little shapes in the pancake syrup. He distracted himself by magically drawing a syrupy caricature of Snape on his stack of pancakes, and then calmly proceeding to eat them (starting with the head). This brought a good hoot of laughter from the table and James grinned, not having realized he was being watched by them.
Lily Evans, of course, looked like she was seriously considering hexing him. James noticed and stuck out a syrupy tongue—a bit childish, but it served the purpose. Sirius looked over James' shoulder and saw that one group, still conversing and casting looks at them. Sirius nudged James and said in a low voice, "There's your fan club again. Don't they ever let up?"
Remus was mildly surprised. Normally James wasn't that hostile towards attention—most of the school adored him.
"Who are they?" he asked curiously. James hesitated to begin, like he wasn't quite sure how to phrase it—Remus had seen that look many times, when James had had to give half-truths in regards to pranks. It happened quite often, actually, whenever he didn't want to fully reveal his plans to a curious student.
"They're off their rockers," said James finally. "Insane. I'd rather have afternoon tea with Snape than hang out with them."
Remus whistled. "That bad? But if you think that, why haven't you said anything?" A few places down the table, he noticed Lily listening closely, surprise evident on her face. Remus couldn't blame her—for all Blotter pulled on Snape, one would think that they'd do worse to someone they despised more.
Blotter exchanged dark looks. Finally, Sirius said, "They're nuts, that's why. Wacko. Loopy. I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole."
"…And you would Snape?"
"No, I'd wallop him with one."
James grinned, the frown vanishing in an instant. "Ah, but remember the cardinal rule: never knock him out. He won't be conscious to enjoy the fun." Sirius nodded in whole-hearted agreement.
"Well said." Further down, Lily snorted into her goulash. Sirius tossed her a disdainful look. "Although knocking one out would certainly shut them up, right James?"
James followed his glance. His grin widened when he saw Evans there, ignoring him. "Absolutely, Padfoot, or you could be creative." Lily turned to talk to other friends half-heartedly. "Her life is no fun without us," James whispered conspiratorially. "We put her in stride. If we didn't, who else would? She needs us."
"That's an interesting view, James," Remus said dryly. "If you ever point that out to her, do it far away from me." He dug into his omelet with a gentleman's approach, watching James out of the corner of his eye. The boy was indiscreetly stealing looks again at the group that irritated him so much. For the life of him, Remus couldn't figure out why—they weren't Slytherins, who were pretty much the only ones James ever had problems with. He had always gotten on well with Ravenclaws—wait.
Remus squinted a bit, and recognized one member of the group. In the midst of Ravenclaws was a Slytherin, one that Remus only knew because the other had a reputation for being even surlier than the rest of his house. Oriol Morris, his name was. He did well in Divination and nothing else; and he only did well in that one class because he had an uncanny ability for predicting gruesome deaths by curses Remus had never heard of before.
Peter was watching them too. His stabbed pancakes, halfway to his mouth, were forgotten as he watched. Like Remus, Peter had never seen James with such a strong dislike for someone that he never even seemed to ever encounter. The Marauders had been friends since the beginning of first year, but neither Remus nor Peter had ever seen those boys around James. Sirius didn't seem surprised—Peter stole a look. Sirius was plainly not paying attention to the gaggle, whether he knew them or not. All of his attention was focused on his Belgian waffle.
"Hey, Prongs," he said, struck with a Sudden Thought, "ever wondered if it's possible to swim in syrup?"
James turned back to him. "Who hasn't? Got an idea?" he said, a familiar mischievous glint in his eyes.
Sirius twiddled his fork. "Well, I've never tried it myself, and I'm not particularly keen to try first. Perhaps Snivellus might be willing to help?" He deliberately ignored Lily's outraged glare. James looked mildly impressed.
"I believe he might. In fact—I do think the entire Slytherin house might want to join in. Who doesn't want a swimming pool in their common room?" James asked reasonably. Lily sputtered, not believing what she just heard.
"Sane people, that's who!" she snapped.
"Exactly," Sirius said smoothly. "That's why we're giving the Slytherins what they want—it's the honorable thing to do." Blotter nodded in unison. Lily looked murderous, and stood up abruptly.
"You do that, and I swear one of the Professors will hear about it!"
One of her friends tried to nervously pull her down. "Come on, Lily—it's not like the Slytherins don't deserve it." She flushed as Blotter flashed her dazzling smiles in thanks. Lily huffed and sat back down, still glaring daggers at Blotter. Peter swallowed hard and sank down in his seat—he'd always thought Evans was a bad one to get angry, but Blotter always went and did what they pleased. He thought Remus was right—no way was James ever going to get her to agree to go on a date with him…
Personally, James was glad for the distraction. Sometimes he poked at Lily simply because it was interesting to see her blow up, although Remus constantly reminded him not to poke dragons in the eye, and Lily was the human equivalent of a Hungarian Horntail. But this time, James wanted a distraction. He didn't show it, but he was becoming increasingly edgy. It had been two years; two years since they had really spoken to him. And now they were acting like they were actual friends with him; saying hello to him, nodding at him like there was some sort of understanding between them. James bit into a sausage. An understanding?
Like hell there was.
Peter wandered through the hall. It felt strange, really, with the other Marauders not being there; but they had finished breakfast before he did to go chase after Professor Parka for something. Peter was still hungry, so he felt that they'd understand. A growling stomach is a very convincing force, and not easily reckoned with. Peter patted it in satisfaction and ignored the fact that his robes were fitting a little more tightly than usual.
He was walking along one of the northern passages to Herbology when an arm draped itself around his shoulder. He turned his head, expecting to see one of his friends, but instead an unfamiliar face leered at him. Peter stared a minute before straining his memory and recognizing the boy as a member of the group that James had been annoyed with. Peter remembered the scowl that had been on James' handsome face and quickly adopted one too, hoping for the same intimidating effect.
Unbeknownst to him, Peter looked roughly like he was sucking on a lemon.
The boy considered, but chose not to comment on this and instead gave an unnerving smile. "Hey—it's Pettigrew, right?"
"Uh, yes," stammered Peter, his scowl twisted with confusion, "Peter."
"Well, hey, Peter," said the boy easily. "I'm Darby Magar."
"Yeah, don't think we've hung out much. You're a sixth year too, right?" Magar asked. He had the air of one reading words off a cue card; not really meaning them, saying them simply for show.
"Yeah." Peter wasn't sure what else to say.
"And—you hang out with Potter, right?" Magar said this almost disbelievingly. He and everybody else had memorized James Potter's inner circle by heart, and like everybody else, he couldn't fathom why mousy Pettigrew was in it.
Peter nodded in understanding. "Look, if you want his autograph, I'm sorry; he won't give them out." He said this with the consistency of one who had the words memorized by heart.
Magar laughed. "No, I don't want his autograph. If I did, I'd have stolen his homework ages ago." He laughed again, and Peter suddenly felt at ease. He laughed too, timidly at first, and then growing in confidence. He could immediately tell that Magar was an easy person to laugh with. There was a friendliness in his voice that was very disarming.
"Say, some guys and I were thinking…"
"We know," Peter said, still smiling. "James doesn't seem to like you that much." Magar was so easy to talk to. "Do you know him?"
Magar laughed that laugh again. "Sort of. But this isn't about him," he said grinning. Peter found himself grinning too. "This is about you."
Peter's smile faded ever so slightly. "Me?" he squeaked.
The other boy chortled at that, and Peter found himself doing the same without really knowing why. "Don't look so scared! You haven't done anything wrong!" he said, still chuckling. "Like I said, the guys and I were talking, and we were wondering…"—his grip around Peter's shoulder tightened almost uncomfortably—"if you wanted to join our club."
Peter's mouth worked, forcibly reminding one of a fish. He didn't notice Magar's charming smile falter a bit, as though he had seen something distasteful. "Me?" he squeaked again.
The smile returned. "Of course!" Magar beamed. "Don't sound so surprised! You're a pretty cool guy, you know." Peter straightened a little. Nobody had ever told him that. It felt good, even wonderful to be praised. "So, how about it?"
Peter was about to say yes, but decided with sudden clarity that he mustn't look too eager. He quickly adopted another one of James' expressions; one of casual interest. "What sort of club?" he asked.
"Oh, just a little get-together between friends," Magar said airily. Peter's heart leapt at the last word. "We do all sorts of things. Do you do well at Defense Against the Dark Arts?" he said suddenly.
Peter shifted. "No," he said. Magar was so easy to talk to. Peter talked without thinking. "No," he said again, just in case Magar missed it.
Magar grinned. "Well, we'll help you then," he said. "We're all wizards at that class—No pun intended." Peter laughed rather louder than necessary. "We help each other out, see? A brotherhood of sorts." Peter surged with pride at this. "And we do want you to join. But," he added, "we understand if you want to think about it. How about meeting us this Saturday outside the library? We'll go over more with you about what we do."
"A—alright," Peter stuttered.
"It's a great club," the boy said enthusiastically. "And it's really hard to get into. In fact, most students don't even know about it. So, keep it under your hat for a while, right? We wouldn't want others to get jealous," he said in a sudden whisper. Peter nodded eagerly, but was struck with a thought.
"Not even James or Sirius?" he asked. "Or Remus?"
Magar hesitated, and uncertainty flashed before quickly being replaced with confidence. "Potter already knows about us," he said. "Sirius probably does too. That's why they're called Blotter, eh? They do everything together." He looked at Peter as he said this, as though asking him to confirm it. Peter nodded. Magar looked satisfied. "Look, just come yourself. If you really like it—and you will, really—you can get after them to join. But don't tell them about meeting this Saturday, okay? It's our secret."
Peter nodded emphatically. I must have done something right, he thought. He hadn't felt this much a part of something for as long as he could remember. It was like being in a Secret Society—not just anybody could get in! They had to be special!
Magar smiled knowingly.
"I won't tell them until after Saturday," Peter promised.
"Alright!" Magar cheered. "See you then!" His arm finally left the smaller boy's shoulder and he strode off whistling. Peter looked after him beaming.
A secret club! Amazing! Peter smiled secretively to himself for a minute before realizing that the hallway was nearly empty. He hurried to the greenhouses, a wide grin plastered all over his face.
Alrighty. This will actually be much more serious later on, but there will still be some light-hearted touches along the way. And yes, Peter will have a big role in this fic, but most of it's about James. I love James! I'm trying to make him and the other Marauders true to the stuff revealed in the fifth book.
Please read and review!