A/N: Well, my suspension is over, I have fully recovered, and I am BACK BABY! Blame this long absence on FFn guys and gals. If any of you read my one-shot I posted a little while ago, you know what the deal was. Anyway, I am back, and this story is FINISHED being written, if not posted! I plan on posting the remaining four chapters once i get a new beta. IamSiriusGirl did a great job while she could, unfortunately, real life has intervened in the form of college, so that takes priority. I will still take her advice, but i need someone else who can check for grammar and spelling errors, so I am hoping that one of YOU will be up to the task. just sned me a message saying you are interested, or better yet, proff-read this chapter and then send me an email.
Also, while I am waiting on a new beta, i am starting a new story for NaNoWriMo, an HP/SG1 crossover. Now, don't get me wrong, I love this story, and its AWESOME fan-base, but I feel the need to expand my horizons into some of my other stories. If you have seen my Preludes, or checked my profile, you know I have ideas for pure HP stories, crossovers, and Non-HP works that I want to try my hand at. Using NaNoWriMo to get back into the swing of things seemed like a good idea.
Also, I re-read both knightblazer's and my stories to get them fresh in my head, and discovered I had neglected a few things, which I hope this chapter explains and/or covers for, such as his three pets/familiars and his Beastspeaker ability. Only explanation for that is...I goofed. Sorry all. But I did get a good comment from a reader that has helped me get things together, so I have decided exactly what this story is going to have, what will be removed, and what some of the items found in both stories will be used for.
Now, in other news, I have decided NOT to include any challenges in my chapters anymore, as a bulk of my reviews were challenge answers, rater than actual reviews. My writing style as also changed somewhat, as have my plans for this story and its sequels. I had a few chapters for the next story in the TTB Saga already written out, when I was struck with a new idea which required a re-write of the following chapters and made the material I had written for the next arc irrelevant.
One last request, then on to the story. If you wouldn't mind, could you head to my profile and check out my latest one-shot, "Harry Potter and the Memories of a Guardian"? I don't normally ask this, but that piece was a bit of an unusual one for me, and I wanted to get some opinions on it from you guys.
Peace and Out,
Pwn Master Paladin
Chapter 6: The Winner is...
Harry sighed as recovered in the shower after he finished his latest workout. He was feeling tired, and even though it was near curfew, he had many other things to do tonight before he could get to sleep. Nothing time-critical, thankfully, with Wormtail in prison, but they needed to be done anyway. After getting dressed again, he pulled the Marauder's Map from his pocket before stepping out of the Room of Requirement. The workouts in the mornings with his friends were good, but some of them were still not up to his version of a full workout, so he had started to come here at least 3 times a week to get one in. Noticing the time, he walked to the end of the corridor, pulled something out of shirt, and moved it in a circle, before disappearing with no sound at all. Unknown to him, a pair of eyes were following his every move, and narrowing in suspicion as he disappeared...
Harry and Sirius were talking quietly while Remus and Sever worked on the newest batch of potions for the Marauders latest prank. After all, just because they sponsored the prank war, didn't mean they couldn't spread a little mayhem themselves, now did it?
"Any idea as to how to finish off the last part of the prank war, Harry?"
"A few Padfoot. Not sure yet if any of them will work."
"You could always tr-"
"For the last time, NO! I will not call in the French All-Veela gymnastics team to be our unbiased judges, no matter that Dad made a large contribution to their team he never cashed in on!"
Severus looked up at the two clowning people he had come to call friend. "Would you blithering dunder-heads kindly shut your mouths before I silence you both? This potion is delicate!" Friends or not, they should know better than to make too much noise when he was making a potion.
"What he said."
With a sigh, Severus went back to his work, careful to hide the smile he had from everyone, Lupin included. He had to keep up appearances after all.
Harry smiled to himself, before taking another drink from the fire-whiskey Sirius had supplied. It tasted slightly different tonight, he wasn't sure what, but he knew the flavor...
The cup feel out of his hands, and Sirius, who had been waiting on it, caught it before it broke on the ground. "He's out you two."
Remus and Severus looked up, before straightening their backs where they had been leaning over the cauldron. "That took a while. Are you sure he needed this Severus?"
"Yes." The was a note of resigned finality to his tone, one which Sirius and Remus had never heard before. "You didn't see how exhausted he looked after stepping out of the Room. He did the same thing in the war in the alternate future. He worked himself nearly to death, hardly getting any sleep. He felt he had to, he needed to train, study how to defeat Voldemort, work on the Dragon's Fire Curse, and still maintain the illusion that even with all of his extra work, he had the ability to have fun and keep the morale of the troops up."
"But we haven't seen him training, outside of what he does with his friends in the trunks..." Sirius stopped, as he pulled out a small hour-glass from the front of Harry's robes. "Bloody Hell! When did he get a Time-Turner?"
"More than likely over last summer. He had a few days in Diagon without supervision, he could have easily bribed the Goblins into stretching the rules and allowing him to get this from the Potter Family Vault. I remember him telling me once, the one he used to bring us back was only one of five in the vault. The other four were normal Time-Turners, as this appears to be."
"So you are saying he has been using that thing over and over, to get in more time to train?" Remus studied the magic artifact closely, almost as intrigued with the item as with Severus' story. "But why? He caught Peter. The war shouldn't be able to start again."
"I can answer that." Sirius spoke softly now, in a way that made the other two take notice of his seriousness. "He's afraid."
"That no matter what he does, he can't change history. That's the point of several of the things he has been doing. He told me a couple of days ago, that some of the events from the previous time-line still happened, despite the fact that he had changed the circumstances that had lead up to them. That's one of the reasons, I think, he is embracing this prank war so heavily. This is his way of proving to himself that things CAN change."
The three men sat together in silence for a while, lost in their thoughts about their sleeping friend/child/nephew. Harry slept on, a small smile on his face, before the men reached an unspoken agreement. Remus and Sirius took Harry out of the room, leaving Snape to finish off the potion. They knew he could do it, and Harry needed a good-nights sleep.
"Good night Mr. Slick. Mr. Padfoot looks forward to seeing the effects tomorrow. And Snape...I don't know if I ever told you, but...I am sorry. For everything."
"Good night, Mr. Padfoot. And thank you."
Harry stretched his arms above his head, before stopping and recalling last nights events. From what he remembered, and from half-heard conversations as he drifted off into sleep...
"I aught to prank the holy hell out of all three of them."
"Whose that?" Harry jumped slightly before recognizing Ron's voice. "You look like you had a good nights sleep, ready to go?"
"No one important. Sirius, Remus, and Sever decided I needed more sleep, so I think they put some Dream-less Sleep Potion in my drink last night. And give me a minute, I'll meet you down in the trunk."
"Okay, the girls are already down there, so you don't have to worry about them coming in on you when you are changing." Ron's face took on a slight shade of pink, and Harry had a sneaking suspicion of what exactly had brought that particular statement on. "See you in a few."
Harry sat there for a minute, before standing, getting dressed, and walking to the window. With the addition of so many people to the training, it had become a rule that the first person awake cast a few silencing charms over Dean and Seamus' beds before they woke the others and went down. With so many people wanting to run the obstacle courses, and only one other trunk, they had to get up early, and they didn't want to be rude to their friends by waking them before they wanted to be.
He stood next to the open window, watching the slowly rising sun cast the world into shades of every color imaginable. "Another beautiful sunrise. Let's hope I can kept this place safe enough for everyone to enjoy this sight." He turned around and stepped to the trunk, and stepped down, his resolve firm once again.
Harry raised his head over the top of the trunk, before turning slightly. "All clear!" He climbed the rest of the way out, followed closely by Neville, then Ron, and eventually, Hermione, Ginny, and Luna had all come out. Harry had been slightly surprised when Ginny invited Luna to join them, but he guessed that it was her way of showing the girl that there were no hard feelings. The prank that was going to occur at breakfast today was actually her idea, modified by Hermione and the twins.
"Okay guys, go get ready so we can head down to breakfast, we don't want to cast suspicion on ourselves by not being there."
The five Gryffindors and one Ravenclaw entered the Great Hall a few minutes later. It turned out that they hadn't needed to rush as much as they had though, as the prank didn't go off for around 15 minutes. When it did, the Great Hall was relatively full, and a large majority of the students got hit. At first, nothing was noticeable, but as the potions in the drinks were consumed by more and more people, things began to happen.
First one person, then the other found themselves speaking in rhyme, then speaking in someone else's voice, then speaking in rhyme with someone else's voice, and the effects kept pilling up. Fred and George called it "The Variation Voicer", and from the gleam in their eyes, Harry was almost positive that he would see a new Wheeze in a few years. Throughout the day at random intervals, a persons voice would either change, or they would be forced to speak in song, rhyme, or Old Shakespeare. The Marauders had all taken the antidote, but for the most part played along, occasionally slipping in a rhyme or Shakespeare line to keep the others guessing.
"Alas, poor Grindelwald, I knew him well..." Harry looked up in surprise as the Headmaster spoke. He was sure that he had told the house-elves to leave the teachers plates alone, so that Sirius, Remus, and Severus wouldn't stand out. He watched as Dumbledore continued to speak, before a slight twinkle in the old man's eye gave him away. He's not under a potion, he's doing it in purpose!
After he figured it out, he pointed towards the Headmaster discreetly, and the others soon realized what was happening. Ron looked at the Headmaster, then at the others, then back to the Headmaster, before voicing their shared thought. "Well, he is Dumbledore."
"You mean an old man whose insanity is well known?"
"Like I said. He IS Dumbledore"
The final day of the Prank War was tomorrow, and everyone was looking forward to the announcement of who would be the winner. Harry stepped up the training in the mornings with the others and cut back on his trips to the Room of Requirement, after a severe dressing down from the three adults in on his secret. Under their advice (read: threats to his life and anatomy), he decided to cut down some and focus on getting the others up to where he remembered them.
Tonight, Harry was outside, spending time with his familiars. Over the last few weeks, he had not really spent a lot of time with them ,so he had decided to take a break and go out with Midnight, already big as a tiger, Jade, and Hedwig. The two avians were in the sky, enjoying a game of aerial tag, while he scratched Midnight around the ears. He was thinking about one of the early pranks from the day, where someone had managed to get the Sorting Hat to stick to Dumbledore's head and shout out his thoughts at random times for the entirety of breakfast and lunch. Although Harry could have done without hearing how Dumbledore was thinking about the brilliant pink and purple set of robes he had commissioned the last weekend, it was an inventive idea to get the Sorting Hat in on the scheme. He continued to scratch Midnights ears, not even moving his hand, letting the cat do the moving for him, when he heard a voice coming from nowhere.
"Even though he is so large, he is still a cat"
The unexpected voice startled Harry, before he looked down at his wrist, seeing Seth, the bracelet he had found in the Chamber of Secrets."You scared me Seth, but you are right, he is indeed, a very large house cat at heart. You have not spoken for a long time, my friend."
"I saw no need to, young master."
"Something I have been contemplating for a while. I believe that you are on the right track towards your goal, but you must use all the resources available to you."
"What do you mean?"
"You have created a second magical focus, but have you practiced with it? And what of your friends, have you thought of giving them another wand, or any of the weapons you and I talked about in the Chamber?"
Harry stared down at his hand, the mythril ring having almost been forgotten about after he received the finished product from Ollivander over Christmas. It was powerful, he felt it the few times he had used it before, but he had not actually practiced with it, after he had become so used to his wand. He let the fading light catch the metal, sending it bouncing around the ground as he moved his hand. "I have been remiss in using everything I can, haven't I?"
"In a way master, yes. In others, no. Your friends would have been unable to handle the weapons training, their bodies were simply unused to the physical aspects of it before. However, now that they have been able to keep up with this current level of activity, I believe they can handle the training. And of course, for any that are simply unable or uncomfortable using a sword or one of the other weapons, you have the items to make other magical focuses. And don't forget the Dragon's Claw. It can bind the magical focus to a weapon, those that don't already have one."
"Do any from the chamber?"
"Yes, master, the glaives, the broadsword, and the quarterstaff all have foci bound to them. However, neither of the curved blades do. And the weapons are not the only advantages you have, master. you have loyal friends, family, and familiars that surround you. Don't forget what they can offer you, and don't think you have to go it alone. That caused my former master to leave Hogwarts, and is, I believe, the source of much of the confusion surrounding the name of Salazar Slytherin to this day."
"And I suppose not forgetting my friends and what they offer includes making sure to use the knowledge in a well-meaning bracelet that is not as subtle as it believes itself to be?"
"I don't know what you mean master."
Harry laughed to himself, before looking down at Seth. "Thank you, you've given me many things to think on."
"My pleasure master. I think I am going to take a nap now."
Harry watched as the bracelet closed its eyes and spoke no more. He was still for a time, long enough for Midnight to notice and turn towards him. "Speaker, is everything alright? You stopped scratching."
"Maybe he got tired of your constant annoying rumble, Midnight."
"As if that pathetic excuse for song you spout is any better, Jade." Harry laughed to himself as the two went at each other again. Sometimes he wondered if it was his fate, to be surrounded by people that constantly sniped and bickered with each other, all the while having those arguments and "discussions" binding them closer together. Ron and Hermione, Severus and Sirius, now Jade and Midnight. He smiled as he felt a weight land on his shoulder, and turned his head to look at his first familiar.
"Think they will ever stop?" Hedwig was all for fun and games, but Harry could tell that the antics of the other two exasperated her sometimes.
"I doubt it old friend, those two like to fight as much as Hermione and Ron. If they weren't completely opposite species I would say they had the hots for each other."
"It is amusing, but still, I'm glad they can't mate. One of each of those two is enough, we don't need their spawn running around scaring the other students here." Harry smiled and thought that it was amusing how, if he compared Jade and Midnight to Ron and Hermione, then Hedwig was most definitely easily compared to him, if the long suffering if slightly amused tone she gave off was any indication.
"JAAADDDEEE!" Harry whipped his head around, only to cringe as he saw Midnight do a perfect belly-flop right into the middle of the Lake. Apparently Jade had lifted him up and carried him out over the lake, then dropped him. She was still laughing as the Shadow Tiger climbed back up on to the shore, water dripping from his fur.
"Have a nice swim?"The phoenix was rolling on the ground in what could only be hysterics, her song broken and interrupted as she gasped for breath. Harry was surprised that Midnight was not making as big a fuss as usual, until he saw a maniacal gleam in the cats eyes. Realizing what was about to happen by the way the big cat moved, Harry immediately conjured an umbrella. And not a moment to soon as Midnight gave a mighty shake, flinging water everywhere.
Now it was the tiger rolling in laughter, as the phoenix sat dripping in stunned disbelief. "You...You...AHHH!" Harry couldn't hold it anymore and began to laugh as well, as the chase was on again between the two. His mind returned to an earlier part of his conversation with Hedwig about the possible offspring of these two, and then gave an involuntary shudder.
"You know Hedwig, I think you are right. It is a good thing."
Harry watched his familiars play more, before calling it a night and heading in. After all, tomorrow the Marauders had an announcement to make.
Breakfast in the great hall was rather packed , many students expecting and recovering from some last minute pranks throughout the previous day. As a crack of thunder peeled the sky, the students first looked out the window, to see a bright, sunny day, then all sound ceased as they craned their necks, as the now familiar lightning bolt began to spread words across the ceiling.
"Greetings and salutations, students of Hogwarts!"
"The time has come, at long last, to decide the winners of the First Annual Hogwarts Prank War."
"How odd that it was in April?"
"Indeed Ms. Talon, but was it odd or perhaps-"
"Evil, megalomaniacal planning?"
"With you two, I'd say odd"
"Thank you Ms. Wise, and if Mr. Para and Mr. Dox would kindly shut their gobs, perhaps we could get on with this?"
"Right you are Mr. Slick!"
"Indeed Mr. Padfoot. As it is, at the start of this event, we thought to ourselves, how do we make it so that the winner is an unbiased pick?"
"And we answered Mr. Moony, by saying, we let the students pick of course!"
"Correct Mr. Sly! If you would all turn your attention to the right of the Great Hall main entrance..." As the eyes turned to the door, people watched as a box was revealed, surrounded by a white line on the ground. It held a stack of parchments, and a small hole in the box to submit a ballot.
"That, my dear pranksters and prank victims, is the voting box, complete with Age Line that blocks entrance to anyone over 20 years old. Sorry professors, but this is a student contest."
"The line also records the image of everyone that crosses it, allowing each person one vote, to make sure no one stuffs the ballot box."
"Mr. Sneak, are you accusing the students of cheating?"
"Look around Mr. Hunter, what do you think?"
"Good point. Anyway, you have until dinner tonight to vote, at which point the final tally will be counted, and the winner announced. You may pick between any one of these three pranks, as determined by us to be the best of the bunch!"
"Of course, you may write in another if you choose, but only if you truly believe it was better than the finalists. And those finalists are...The Professors of the Round Table!" The ceiling changed to a movie version of the professors dancing, singing, and kicking the plates and drinks all over the table.
"Next, we have The Heroes and Villains of Disney-Hogwarts Style!" Another video, displaying the teachers dressed as the various Disney characters, ending with Snape glaring in full Cruella mock-up
"And finally, for sheer audacity, The Prank that Wasn't! This prank has no video, as it never happened! Or rather, the prank was not as it was portrayed. Everyone heard rumors of pranks that were going to happen on certain days at certain times, or big events that would occur, that never happened. It was a complete fabrication, with the lack of prank being the prank, brilliant, simple, and absolutely effective. Well done!"
The words disappeared, and students began to leave the hall, some stopping to fill out a ballot, others heading to their common rooms to grab a quill to do so. Harry and his friends voted, then headed out to enjoy the day outside.
Dinner that night was a nervous affair, as people were all expecting an announcement anytime. When there was a crash of thunder, they wasted no time in looking straight up to see the words scrolling across.
"Thanks to all the students that voted, and if our images were correct, it seems that some found a way around our age line, isn't that right...Headmaster?" Dumbledore neither confirmed or denied it vocally, merely sitting there with eyes twinkling madly, so everyone assumed that it was in fact, true.
"As it is, the winner has been decided. Congratulations to...Ms. Jessica Durham, Seventh-year Ravenclaw for The Heroes and Villains of Disney-Hogwarts Style!"A bag of galleons appeared at the blushing seventh year, who eagerly accepted the money while the rest of the students, and a few professors, clapped politely.
"We hope you've enjoyed this little diversion, and remember, we said FIRST annual, meaning that next year we expect even better results, so get planning people!"
The teachers all lost a bit of color at this, as already you could hear excited whispers, as alliances were formed, broken, and remade, planning for the next chance they could have. Harry smiled to himself before taking a sip of his pumpkin juice, thinking about how Fate could shove it. He was changing things, and would keep doing so, so that everyone could be happy, free, and most of all, they could live.
A/N Mark 2: Well, the prank war is over. Sorry if the ending is kinda rushed, but I wanted this part of the story to be over with. it became a monstrosity beyond what I had planned to make it, and honestly, even if I hadn't of been banned, I could have struggled for a while with it. Next chapter, the Quidditch final, an interesting confrontation, and a cliff-hanger. We're closing in on the end folks, hang on tight!