CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: "Slytherin Pranks"

By the time Feburary rolled around, many things in Slytherin were on even keel again, especially after a stray Hyper-Bomb was found and consumed by Millicent Bulstrode's cat. The poor thing had to be placed in a bubble charm to keep it from hurting itself as it bounced around the Common Room. The impromptu game of Common-Room Quidditch was halted after the paintings on the walls complained.

Of greater interest was when half of the Larry Pothead Roleplaying Game members decided that they had to recreate a scene they had played out in the game, and spent most of a free evening in the Common Room attempting to turn each other into puddles of water. Needless to say, by the time Britomartis had found out what they were up to, most of them were half-melted puddles of flesh hanging off of their skeletons, which grossed out many of the Ladies of Slytherin (Mk. 398) who simply had run to tattle to the House Master.

Britomartis had just turned all of the RPG'ers to normal and they got back to their role-playing when Severus showed up to dispense some of his own punishment for teenage stupidity. Seeing nothing wrong save for the usual silliness of this group of students yelling attacks at each other, he turned on the Ladies of Slytherin and turned THEM into puddles of water for about two hours for wasting his time.

Meanwhile, Draco, Crabbe, Goyle, and Marcus Flint had a wonderfully delicious prank to pull on Harry Potter during the Gryffindor-Ravenclaw Quidditch game. It might even get them some points for their House as long as their House Mother did not find out.

XXXXXXXXXX

"A Firebolt!" Draco spat as he, his goons, and the Slytherin Quidditch captain made their way out of the entrance of the castle. "At this rate, they'll win the Cup this year!"

"And you know how bad Snape's going to take it if we do lose it," Marcus added. "He might actually try to run the team!"

"We can't have that," Draco agreed. "My father says Snape was the worst person at the team tryouts - he can barely fly a broom."

"No, what would be worse is if he makes Vox run the team."

Draco wrinkled his nose up, reminding Crabbe and Goyle of their master's mother during one of her 'moods'. "He wouldn't dare! We'd have to replace the equipment ourselves after every game! Or she'd make us play strictly by the rules and we couldn't win at all!"

Marcus grinned. "That's why we're going to mess up Potter good at this game."

Draco returned the grin. "Just the sight of them turns him into gelatin." He glanced at Goyle. "All right, I'm on your shoulders - Crabbe, you got yours?"

Crabbe nodded. Marcus looked around, then broke into a very off-key rendition of a Muggle song he overheard while at the train station:

"One way, or another

I'm gonna getcha' -

I'm gonna getcha-getcha-getcha-getcha - "

XXXXXXXXXX

Elizabeth Humphries snapped her fingers, and Graham Pritchard and Derek Frobisher looked up from their betting pools in Slytherin's stands and replied as one: "Yes, Evil Mistress?"

She gave both a pained expression. "Remind me why I allow you to call me that?"

"Because it annoys Malfoy," Graham replied.

"And we're young enough to think you still have cooties," Derek answered.

She sighed, rolled her eyes, and finally stated, "All right. Now, what do you guys think Malfoy and his Girlfriends are up to?"

"You mean Parkinson?"

"No, his goons and our gloriously gorilla-like Quidditch team Captain."

"Oh, those girlfriends," Derek giggled. He paused. "Whatever it is, it probably has to do with Harry Potter."

Graham bit his lip, then blurted, "Since Flint is with him, I think it's something Quidditch-related." He glanced around Slytherin's stands.

"No, they aren't here - I looked." Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. "Now, my minions, where shall we look for Malfoy?"

"Under a rock?"

"Behind the sofa?"

"In a cat pan?"

"Good one, mate!"

"I thought so."

"Boys!" Elizabeth intimated. The First-Years quieted. She resumed, "The prospect of Malfoy being absent from a Quidditch game is worrisome, as this means he is up to No Good. Being the noble Slytherins we are, we must make sure he is preserving the dignity of our House by not pulling any foolishness - especially of the simplistic, lowbrow sort that Malfoy favors. Since this is a Quidditch game featuring his favorite target, the debut of said target's new Firebolt broom, and our own team captain is missing, we must assume he is planning on being an amateur and trying to sabotage the game."

The boys looked up at her. "How do you know all that, Mistress??" Graham asked.

"Because I overheard Malfoy plotting an incredibly juvenile and stupid prank concerning Potter the other day." She smirked. "Now ... with you two being my faithful guard, I want you two to locate Mal-fois-gras, Crabs, Gargoyle, and Flintbox and sabotage their costumes."

"We thought you were going to ask us to stop them," Derek said.

"Of course not. We merely annoy, we do not interfere. As a great Muggle philosopher once said 'A single grain of rice can tip the balance'; we provide that grain of rice and let everything else work around it. Now go."

"Yes, Evil Mistress!"

XXXXXXXXXX

Britomartis knocked on the door of the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher's office, and the door immediately opened to Remus Lupin staring out of it.

"Oh, Gods," he breathed.

She smirked. "I understand you had your way with my mother."

"Um ... " He blushed

"She told me how you crossed your eyes and howled at one point; it amused her very much."

"Um ... " He blushed a deeper red.

"I'm surprised you were able to look beyond your western European prejudice that believes anyone over fifty is disgusting and non-sexual."

He looked up sharply at her. "Actually, Saphira is quite attractive - she could easily pass herself off as forty."

Britomartis grinned. "Good boy. I was hoping that the culture that created the Sheela-na-Gig in her early history would still hold onto such mysteries." She held out her hand.

"What?" he asked.

"Make up. I forgive you for your drunken lapse at Christmas. I intended to do this several weeks ago, but the regrowth trauma got in the way."

"Um. What about the incident involving your mother?"

"That's her business. You see, Lupin, my culture is a little more relaxed about such things. She doesn't love you, so it's all right."

He blinked. "You know, I did not expect your honesty to get any more blunt as we got older, but it has. Excuse my surprise."

"Excused." She continued to hold her hand out. "Again - I forgive your slip of control at Christmas."

"You're not ... ?" He hesitantly took her hand.

"Offended by your offer? No. I was just offended by you trying to go through with it. I am flattered that you carried a torch for me all those years ago, for sure, but you were always more well-adjusted than I could deal with."

Remus laughed. "Me? Well-adjusted? Wherever did you hear that?"

Britomartis giggled. "Well, not as messed up as Severus and myself. I didn't even know of your curse back then, I just thought you were sort of 'vanilla'."

"It's been ... difficult my whole life, but I've accepted it. I'm somewhat glad you always thought of me as 'vanilla' and weren't afraid of me."

"It's all right, Lupin."

"You can call me 'Remus'."

"I'm allowing your True Love that."

His eyes widened. "What?"

"Never you mind. Come along, there's a game between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, and Mr. Potter got his Firebolt back, so this should be quite fun."

Remus was surprised by her dragging him out by the arm, and the pain kept him from wondering what her cryptic statement meant.

XXXXXXXXXX

Derek and Graham panted as they plopped themselves to either side of Elizabeth.

"Mission accomplished!" Derek proclaimed.

"As soon as they step onto the Pitch, they will have trouble," Graham clarified.

"Very good, my minions!" Elizabeth cackled. "Nobody will out-prank us! Least of all Drecky Malformed."

XXXXXXXXXX

Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw started with a bang, with Harry's Firebolt becoming the focus of the game. Lee Jordan, commentator, continued to make it the focus by acting as ad-man for the broom.

"I'm tempted to turn him into a puddle of water myself," Britomartis remarked. She stood up in the teacher's box and yelled, "JORDAN! GET TO THE BYPLAY OR I'LL FLUNK YOUR WORLD RELIGIONS EXAM! THIS IS QUIDDITCH!"

Hooch, hovering nearby, added, "Obey the destroyer of Quidditch equipment!"

Britomartis flushed and sat back down between Severus and her mother. "Twice in once season and I'm marked for life!"

Severus chuckled. "Compared to how many centuries before that?"

"Shush."

Harry pulled a Wronski Feint, then pulled right back up, Ravenclaw chaser Cho Chang still trailing along the ground below him toward her team's goals. Then a sudden stream of silver energy shot out from Harry and hit the edge of the field.

Severus stood up, as did McGonagall and Lupin. Britomartis peered over the top of her sunglasses. "What the Avernus was he shooting at??"

"Who taught him the Patronus Charm?" McGonagall demanded.

Severus narrowed his eyes, then shifted his eyes to Lupin. "Yes, I wonder who?"

"Knock it off," Britomartis told them. "Minerva, are those students at the end of the field?"

"I believe so. Let's go, Martis."

The women left the stands as Harry grabbed the Snitch and was gang-piled by his teammates.

Lupin hurried off, and Severus approached Dumbledore who was getting out of his seat. "Sir, did you know Professor Lupin had taught Potter the Patronus - ?"

"No," the old man answered. "But I am impressed with Harry's ability. Quite natural, like his father."

Severus snorted. "The Dementors were not even present – "

"I suspect, Severus, that a … robe pranking may have gotten out of hand."

He folded his arms. "Comparing such things when a third of the participants are dead, another third are mad, and the last third innocent is crude, Headmaster."

"Well, shall we find out what necessitated the use of a Patronus?" Dumbledore asked.

XXXXXXXXXX

Britomartis unrolled one of the wads of black material. "Mr. Flint! What is the meaning of this?"

Draco poked his head out from another wad. "Some damn mudblood sewed up our cloaks!"

His House Mother pulled back and stood up. "I should have known you would be behind such an uncouth prank."

"An unworthy trick!" McGonagall seethed. "A low and cowardly attempt at sabotaging the Griffindor Seeker!"

Britomartis added, "Detention for all of you, and – unfortunately – fifty points from Slytherin."

"But - !" Draco tried interrupting.

"Professor McGonagall would have taken one hundred points if she had her way, which I am almost inclined to allow her, given that you had disgraced Slytherin with such a belly-scraping, brain-numbing prank."

"I shall be speaking to Professor Dumbledore about this!" McGonagall was still ranting, her thin face nearly red. "Professor Vox, this is unacceptable!"

"Professor McGonagall, I do agree."

"And here he comes now!"

Dumbledore and Severus approached the group of gathering students giggling at Draco and his goons trying to get out of their cloaks. Severus pulled Britomartis' arm and whispered into her ear, "Martis, isn't that the adhesive charm one of your brothers created?"

"Looks like it. It got published about fifteen years back, so anyone could have done it." She smirked. "Do we really need to find out who glued them together?"

"Not really."

"Good. Now, what sort of detention can we give them for pulling a Maraudiot-type prank?"

"Oh, I have a few things in mind, most of them involving cleaning the showers."

"How nasty."

"Of course. If young Malfoy and his henchmen are going to stoop as low as a Marauder, they deserve equal punishment." He glared at his Slytherin students. "And not practicing good sportsmanship is dispicible enough on its own."

Britomartis said nothing. Severus inadvertantly was on Harry Potter's side. Needless to say, she was never going to point this out to him.

XXXXXXXXXX

Gryffindor's victory party was loud enough to be heard through Sir Cadogan's painting and out into the hallways. Elizabeth sat in one of the sitting areas near Gryffindor.

She wasn't sure why she did. Perhaps perchance of talking to a Weasley. Malfoy was terribly horrid and was being especially lording in the Slytherin Common Room enough to break up her Larry Pothead role-playing game and force her players to their dorms.

So, she hung out near Gyffindor.

It still irked her she was sorted into Slytherin. The last witch in her family was almost three hundred years ago, and Granny Joy was the worst kitchen-witch to ever publish a cookbook. She felt she was more suited to Gryffindor, anyway. She had a concept of honor, and even had a flair for the daring. She had nothing in common with her housemates, save for a wicked sense of humor on occasion.

Fred and George swung the portrait open and stopped in perfect step with left feet in the air as they noticed her across the hall. Fred nudged George. "My brother, your lady caller has arrived."

George stuck his tongue out at his twin. "Fred, old chap, you are a git." He waved at her. "Hey, Lizziebreath. What's up?"

She looked down at her black boots, feeling incredibly stupid for being there. "Well, why didn't you invite me to your party?"

"No other houses allowed," George replied. He picked her up under the shoulder and pulled her along. "But you can go on the sweetie run with us."

"I beg your pardon?"

Fred whacked his brother in the back of the head. "Hey, what's with dragging Lizardbreath along for that? It's our secret!"

"And who's she going to tell?" George argued. "Considering the things we all got up to on Crete last summer and we still have our heads, she's not going to snitch to her House Masters about us. Right, Lizzie?"

Elizabeth grinned as they ran up to the third floor. "Of course I won't! Honor on my mum's porriage. What are you two ponces up to?"

"Ponces?" Fred pouted. "That was naughty. We like girls." He paused in front of the statue of the one-eyed witch. "Cover your ears and close your eyes, we have to keep some secrets."

"Ooh," she commented sarcastically, clapping her hands over her ears. "You obviously trust me beyond the ends of the earth."

George was the one who pulled her with them and she was suddenly sliding down a stone chute. When they landed, he pulled her hands away. "You can look now."

She made an unladylike sound. "Logical extrapolation states that there is a secret passage involving the statue and we are now in a corridor that leaves the school. You two prats are going to Hogsmeade, aren't you?"

"Brillant deduction, Miss Humphries," Fred replied, leading the way. "But not Hogsmeade in general – we are going directly to Honeyduke's."

Elizabeth paused, while George yanked her wrist to keep moving. "You mean we're going underground all the way to Hosgmeade – er, Honeyduke's?"

"Correct again," George confirmed, not letting her wrist go.

She shrugged and trotted behind him, not minding him grasping her wrist. "When did you find this passage? And does anyone else know about it?"

"A couple of years ago."

"And very few people know."

"You're only the second we've told."

"And the last."

"Feel honored."

"Oh, I do. But you made sure I'd never be able to get in on my own. I suppose I must succomb to your perverse lusts if I am to find out this secret?"

Fred laughed loudly, while George blushed. "It's not like that at all!"

Fred added, "Last second idea on our parts, Lizardbreath. You can help carry the goods back with us."

She snorted. "I did not want to be a pack mule to run snacks back to Gryffindor's party."

"Too late now, we're almost there."

Elizabeth was dragged along in the wake of the Weasley twins … and she liked it, especially since they gave her a chunk of crushed-peppermint white chocolate after the Honeyduke's raid.

When they returned her safely to the hallway outside Gryffindor Tower, she flicked her fingers through her purple streaks and went back to Slytherin House. Lambchop appeared and trotted in lockstep with her, softly baa'ing 'Bad to the Bone' to which Elizabeth provided vocals.

The Weasleys were surprised to find out later during the party that they had signs posted on their backs; Fred's reading 'Sleeps with sheep' and George's reading 'Sleeps with snakes'.

XXXXXXXXXX

Saphira heard noises outside the door of the House Mother's rooms, and then a knocking on the door. She lit the lamp as Britomartis got out of the bedroom, pulling a dressing gown on as she got the door.

Severus Snape was outside the door, clad in his long grey nightshirt, and he said, "Martis, he broke in again!"

She yawned, and the lamp was finally lit. "Who?"

"Black. According to Professor McGonagall, he was in Gryffindor Tower and was slashing up Ronald Weasley's bedcurtains."

Both mother and daughter put hands to mouths in identical gestures of horror. "Is he all right?" Britomartis finally asked.

"He is alive. But we must hurry and search the school before Black escapes."

"Right. Mother, stay here."

"Yes," Saphira replied. "Please be careful."

Both left, and Saphira nervously paced the rest of the night.

XXXXXXXXXX

By dawn, the search turned up nothing, save another time-release prank set up by Severus and Britomartis when they were youngesters. The unfortunate recipient was Hagrid, and he threatened to let loose a pack of Cornish Pixies on them for his entire front (including inside his clothing) ending up bright orange with green polka-dots. It took most of the morning for Severus to find the antidote in one of his old student notebooks and turn the half-giant back to normal.

Other than that, the security of Hogwarts was now brought under the strictest scrutiny.