Chapter 8: Hogwarts' Most Wanted
"Bugger," Peter groaned scanning the book pages, the spell he was looking for wasn't there. He slammed the thick textbook shut, running a hand through his short, mousy brown hair in agitation. He wished his friends were here to help him but Peter didn't want that. He had ventured into the library looking for a spell he could do to impress his friends, to prove that he was a Marauder and not a tagalong like everyone thought.
Peter had thought that looking for a spell to use would be simple seeing as how he was in a school of magic where spells were the necessity of life. (As Peter heard Sirius say time and time again.) Unfortunately he forgot to take into consideration the type of spell he wanted to use and as such he was weeding trough tons and tons of books.
He wanted to do something huge, something spectacular that his friends would sit up and notice his quiet genius. He could just imagine Sirius saying what a great prank it was and Remus quietly congratulating him on such a well thought out plan. And even James would say what a hero he was to pranksters everywhere. Okay, maybe not hero, but it was Peter's dream so he could think whatever the heck he wanted to.
The smile he had dimmed as he looked at the vast piles of spell books before him. He wished there was a way to make this go faster. He wanted to execute his plan before his friends got irritated at being girls and decided to turn on him. James and Sirius seemed okay, the former finally finding a way to get closer to Lily and the latter enjoying his crowd of admirers that was even more extensive than before. Remus was the only one who seemed to be in ill humors partly because the full moon was in less than two weeks away but also because he'd been continually hit on since his first day as "Emily." Privately Peter thought it was hilarious but he didn't say anything out loud within Remus' hearing distance. He didn't feel the need to die an early death, at least not until after he pulled off his amazing plan.
With that he turned back to the textbook and pressed on, fantasies of glory and appreciation from his friends dancing through his head.
In another part of the school James felt like he was in a dream. There he was sitting under the shade of an oak tree with the love of his life, Lily, and talking. Talking! It was the one thing he had hoped for weeks after The Incident. He wanted Lily to talk to him without shouting, without her terrifying death glares, and without the fiery anger usually evident in her eyes whenever she acknowledged his existence.
Now, after all his thoughts and dreams it had come true. Lily was smiling and laughing as she talked, joy animated in every movement she made. A buoyant expression lit up her face and made her green eyes sparkle a brilliant emerald. It was perfect for James and he smiled a big goofy grin, a love struck expression fixed on his face.
Lily's gaze slid over to him and he smiled. He watched her perfect pink lips move up and down. They looked soft and full and James wondered what they would taste like. He concluded they would be like spiced apricots, sweet but with a bite.
Let it be said that James was not the most poetic person in the world, even less when Lily was around, so making nonsensical similes was the best he could do. He smiled anyway, thinking about apricots and spices, which led to him thinking about pie. He smacked his lips together lightly; he did love pie.
A strange look passed across Lily's face. "Janet?" she asked. "Janet?" She waved her hand in front of James' face, snapping him out of his thoughts.
"I agree completely," he said automatically, hastily wiping the drool from his mouth with the back of his hand.
He heard giggling and he turned, slightly surprised to see two other girls sitting on the blanket with him and Lily. He had forgotten about the other classmates Lily had invited to join on the impromptu Saturday picnic. James thought Elizabeth Berkley and Molly Furlong were their names.
One of the girls, Molly he thought, turned to grin at Lily. "See, even she notices that James fancies you like mad," she said and James almost choked on his cookie. Partly in embarrassment because it was frightfully odd hearing someone talk about him, and partly because the conversation just got ten times more interesting.
James thought he detected a hint of a blush on Lily's beautiful cheeks. Or it could be the beginning stages of anger; he was never able to tell the two apart. It was probably why he never knew when to shut up and placate Lily before she smacked him upside his head.
"Yes, well maybe if he wasn't such an arrogant berk," Lily shot back, twisting a napkin in her lap and James' happiness just skyrocketed. That was almost as good as admitting she liked him. The others seemed to catch on two as they laughed at Lily.
"Ah, romance," Elizabeth sighed. "I can see it now. He'll ask you out-"
"Like he does every day," Lily cut in.
"And you'll say yes," Elizabeth continued. "And you'll grow up and get married to live in a little cottage with a child and two dogs." James nodded his head vigorously because yes that was exactly what he was thinking, so maybe there was hope after all.
Lily snorted and threw her half-eaten sandwich at her friend. "Oh come off it, that's never going to happen," she scoffed with a faint blush.
"The lady doth protest too much," Molly said sagely, plucking a candy from the picnic basket. "What do you think Janet?" she asked, elbowing James playfully in the side.
James's head was whirling at all the new information. At first he thought that Lily hated him but now that didn't seem to be true. Could she possibly like him after all, as a friend even? Maybe more? "I, um," James said, tantalizing possibilities of Lily and him laughing together and acting like friends passing through his head. "I don't know. I suppose so…" he trailed off, too caught up in his own world to pay attention to the conversation.
Lily rolled her eyes as the noon bell rang, starting to pack up the stuff. "Okay you guys, you've had your fun now lay off." A smile graced her lips and James caught the twinkle in her beautiful green eyes and knew there was hope after all.
James laughed to himself, his spirits rising dramatically as he helped fold up the yellow blanket. They were so going to name their child James Jr.
Peter snuck down the hallway, nervous energy twitching about him as he made his way towards the kitchens. He had finally found the perfect spell to use and all it had taken was a couple hours. Professor Slughorn would have been proud at the way Peter had carefully followed the directions and even added in the ingredients in the correct order. Peter had been keeping at it throughout the afternoon in an empty classroom down near the lesser-used hallways.
It was just a simple hair loss potion that he was going to use on his friends as a way to get back at all the small pranks pulled on him. It wasn't anything too serious and the potion was reversible with a simple spell. Peter just wanted his friend to take notice at his quiet genius and then perhaps laugh about it later that he had done such an awesome prank.
Peter almost tripped over his long robes and dropped his precious potion but he held on tightly, taking a furtive glance around to see if anyone had heard him. It would have been so much easier if Peter had had James' invisibility cloak but he didn't want to make James suspicious if he asked.
When no one came out to grab him by the ear and demand what he was doing up at this late hour Peter continued. It was easy work tickling the pear in the silver bowl and pulling open the door. The large kitchen was dark, save for the small glowing light at the tip of Peter's wand.
He looked about the dark room warily. He wasn't exactly sure when the house elves went about their work or where the slept and he didn't want to wake any well-meaning elf who happened to be around. He set his potion on the nearest counter top hovering around the room uncertainly. He hadn't actually thought of what to do now that his potion was completed. Should he look for some food and slip it in? Maybe he should hide it among the spice rack somewhere, was there even a spice rack?
Peter sat dejectedly on an overturned crate, chin cradled in his hands. He should have thought this out better; he didn't know what he was doing. James was always the tactical one when it came to the fine details with a guiding hand from Remus. What did he know about pulling a prank? Self-doubt crowded his mind for a minute before he shoved the thoughts away determinedly, sitting a little straighter on the crate and squaring his shoulders. He wasn't going to be "poor old Peter" and he wasn't going to quietly fade into the background like usual. He was smart and he was going to pull this off because it was a good prank, it really was and he'd show everyone just what he could do.
With that mindset he stood up and promptly bumped into a house elf. "Oh, I'm s-sorry," Peter said in a small voice, managing to lose all his newfound confidence in a rush of expelled air. Assorted cookies and pastries littered the stone floors from when the elf had dropped the silver platter.
"No, it is Quiggles fault sir," the elf hurriedly squeaked out, trying to brush off dust from Peter's robes. "Quiggles should not have been standing so close, Quiggles thought-oh!" he broke off, clearly vexed with himself as he tugged on his ears nervously.
Peter flushed a light reddish color feeling extremely sorry for causing the elf discomfort. "No, it's all right," he whispered soothingly, trying to placate the distressed elf. "I-I shouldn't have been down here in the first place." He dropped to his knees to help pick up the sweets and place them back on the tray.
"Young sir is much too kind to Quiggles," the elf said after a moment of silence as he hurriedly scooped up the last of the treats. "Quiggles just wanted to help, young sir looked so lost standing there."
Peter gave a small smile looking down into Quiggles large brown eyes. "I suppose I did, I-I just wanted to…" he trailed off, waving his hand around in a vague gesture between the kitchen and the little blue bottle on the counter.
Quiggles' eyes lit up as he eyed the bottle, a happy grin on his face. "Ah, young sir wanted to surprise a friend with a special treat. Quiggles gets that all the time, young misses and sirs asking to have something special prepared for their friends. It makes Quiggles happy to serve."
Peter nodded uncertainly, feeling slightly bad for lying to the trusting elf. "Y-yeah, something like that," he said, fiddling with his wand. "Maybe you could put it in the drink, it's a special taste my friends will like."
Quiggles nodded happily clapping his small hands together. "Certainly young sir, certainly! Quiggles will make sure everything is okay for tomorrow."
Peter smiled, relieved that the hard part was over. "Thank you Quiggles," Peter said heartfelt. The elf looked faintly amused as he blushed, quickly shaking his head.
"Quiggles is more than happy, more than happy." He pushed a stool over towards the counter and deftly snatched the bottle from the counter to tuck into the folds of his tea-towel. "Now would young sir like something to go before he leaves?"
Peter was hesitant, the longer he stayed in the kitchen the greater chance he had of being caught, but one look at the piles of candies and bottles of pop melted all his doubts. He took the plate gratefully, already stuffing a cupcake into his mouth as he waved a cheery Quiggles goodbye in high spirits. This was going to be a prank no one would forget.
Quiggles hummed to himself as he watched the young sir leave, a tiny frown pulling down the corners of his wide mouth. He was going to ask which friend would get the special drink, but he didn't want to impose and the young sir had said friends meaning more than one. Quiggles figured it couldn't hurt to just mix it in with the giant batch of pumpkin juice for the morning so everyone can get the surprise, that way everyone can be happy.
He fingered the little bottle nervously before coming to his decision. It would be like one big party and surely everyone would be happy with that, he reasoned to himself as he walked back towards his sleeping place. But just in case he decided to put a little something special in the Gryffindor common as appeasement since he never got the young sir's name.
Peter was trying very hard to act casual as he sat across from James in the Great Hall. He wasn't doing a very good job of it as he knocked over his goblet of juice, dropped his fork three times, and kept staring at James that was faintly creeping James out. "Hey Peter," James said after a while of watching the boy act, well weird, "are you okay?"
Peter's heart was thumping twice as hard as normal as he gave James a brittle smile. "Of c-course," he stuttered out. "Why wouldn't I be?" Please believe me, he desperately pleaded.
James shot Peter a weird look, pointing his ketchup-coated fork at his friend. "Well for one, you've been tearing your toast into strips until it's nothing more than a pile of crumbs." Peter looked down to find that James was indeed right and he carefully placed down his pile of crumbs down next to his plate.
"And for another thing," Sirius added after shoving a strip of bacon into his mouth, "you haven't touched a thing on your plate. It's not like it's poisoned or something. Speaking of which, are you going to eat that?"
Peter shook his head and pushed the full plate of food towards Sirius. "Heh, I-I guess I'm not hungry. I had some food earlier in the kitchen." Oh Merlin, he couldn't keep this up much longer and he had the absolute worst poker face. Sirius was constantly telling him that as he once again took all his chips in the weekly poker games they played every week since their first year. It was lucky that they only played for fun and the occasional stash of food at hand or Peter would probably have lost his soul and his first born child to the way Sirius played.
Peter could feel sweat prickling the back of his neck as he tried not to glance from James' goblet of juice to his hair pulled back in butterfly clips in hopes of even a strand falling off when Sirius' fork clattered to the table. Sirius' eyes were wide as he stared at the strands of silky black hair in his hand after he had casually ran a hand through it. "Oh Merlin," he breathed horrified. "I'm balding!" he screeched terrified. He put a hand up to his head and his mouth dropped open in shock. One minute he had hair and the next it was entirely gone. "My hair!" he wailed, picking up his silver plate to see his reflection. "I'm bald!"
Peter had a small smile on his lips, prepared to laugh slightly and comment about his prank when he was interrupted. An outraged cry erupted from the Ravenclaw table as two fifth year brothers looked at each other, their bald heads gleaming in the light. One by one shouts went up around the room as students' hair suddenly vanished. Peter's face bleached of color as he looked around the room, a horrified shock racing up his spine when he saw that his potion had somehow gotten out to everyone. He nearly passed out as Professor Dumbledore stood up to settle down the students, his face looking entirely naked without his customary silver beard.
It proved unnecessary as the hall quieted unnaturally, furious eyes directed at the sole person who wouldn't need a toupee. Peter looked very much like a frightened rat as he cowered on the bench, facing down an enraged Sirius. It didn't matter if Sirius' form looked like a girl; his eyes were still the same and right now they were a dark stormy gray that promised a slow, agonizing death. "You," was all Sirius got out, that one word packed with more venom than Lily had ever directed at James and Peter knew the real meaning of fear. No one touched Sirius' hair, not even Remus, and Peter had gone and made it all disappear. He didn't have time to form a coherent thought to grovel for forgiveness when his strong sense of self-preservation kicked in and he ran. A horde of angry skinheads charged after him calling out for his blood with Sirius in the lead, marking Peter as the most wanted boy in Hogwarts' history.
A/N: Okay folks, this is the last revamped chapter. My interest in the HP fandom is pretty near dead, so I'm not sure about the fate of this story (or any new ones coming out, although I have plot outlines written up for two new stories that will probably never be written). It's been fun though and thanks for the reviews, favs, alerts, and reading.