Plot: The infamous Marauders weren't alone in their love for pranking. In fact, they often had their butts kicked by a bunch of girls. Now, this is it. Seventh year. Four girls, four boys. Two opposing pranking teams. One hell of a battle to be won.
Disclaimer: Sad as it may be, I am not J.K. Rowling in disguise, and therefore I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters and themes involved. (I do, however, own Jamie, Hannah and Regan and most elements of the plot - so no poaching.)
Quick note: Yes, I edited it again. It seems like every time I read over this chapter, something else is wrong with it, or the structure/characterisation/general English is worse than I remember, or it doesn't all make complete sense... or something. I get that with most chapters, actually, so instead of the "Defect Massacre" I had planned (don't ask), I've decided to revise this whole story more thoroughly. No, before you ask, I won't be making any seriously drastic changes, although there will be some chapters that I have to combine/separate/rearrange, and one that I plan on rewriting in its entirety (Chapter Four, if you're wondering, because I have big plans for fixing up the flashback). Anyway, as for this chapter in particular, I haven't done anything much because I can't bring myself to change the original. So yeah, reread = not entirely necessary.
Man, will I ever write a "quick note" that's actually quick?
Chapter One: The War Begins
"Head Girl?" Jamie cried. "You're Head Girl?"
Lily gave a quiet laugh at her friend's tone of desperation. "Thanks, Jay. Have I told you you're the queen of compliments?"
"I didn't mean it that way," Jamie reassured her. "It's just that... well, I guess I got my hopes up over the holidays. I thought I stood a bit of a chance, but obviously..." She trailed off and sighed, looking down at her knees.
"Prefect's not that bad, you know," Hannah chimed in. "You still get to yell at people, only... well, without all the prestige attached to it."
Regan, seated on her right, leaned in and looked at Lily as if about to impart some deep secret. "I hear the Heads get a cosy little dormitory all to themselves, too," she said, not without a wiggle of her eyebrows (a classic Regan gesture).
Lily liked the idea of having a private place to go and think or do whatever else she felt like doing, but it was then that a sudden thought occurred to her. Just who would she be sharing that dormitory with?
"I wonder who got Head Boy?" Lily mused aloud, her forehead creasing in thought.
Regan smirked. "I'm curious as to what train of thought brought you to that, Lils," she said suggestively. "Private dormitory... Oh, so who's Head Boy?"
Hannah laughed loudly while Lily blushed. "No, Reegs. Not all of us have such dirty minds."
Jamie, looking thoughtful, brought them back on topic. "So who do you think it is, then?" she asked. "It could be Amos Diggory, I suppose, but didn't a Hufflepuff get it last year?"
"Dumbledore's never had a problem with repeats before," Lily pointed out.
Hannah snorted. "Yeah, but c'mon - this is Hufflepuff we're talking about."
"So... I guess that rules out O'Keefe as well," Regan said in all seriousness.
The other three burst out laughing, and the sound echoed off the walls. "Regan!" Jamie chided, though it was somewhat hypocritical of her considering she couldn't seem to stop giggling. Amanda O'Keefe was an unfortunately masculine-looking Hufflepuff in their year, and it didn't help that on her first day at Hogwarts, she'd mistakenly walked into the boys' lavatory. She would never live that down.
"Oh, well," said Lily with a sigh. "I'll be okay working with anybody except for a Marauder." She frowned deeply at the thought. What if, for some completely absurd reason, Dumbledore had made one of them Head Boy? That would certainly make for an interesting year, and a difficult one at that. She could just imagine spending afternoons with Potter or Black, attempting to discuss school matters while they threw Every Flavour Beans incessantly at her head. It was possible she might be able to tolerate Lupin, but he was only the lesser of three evils. She didn't include Peter in this silent evaluation simply because... well, even if Dumbledore were smoking dungbombs, there was no way Peter Pettigrew would ever be considered for the position of Head Boy.
"Don't be silly," Hannah said with a confident shake of her head. "If a Marauder got Head Boy, then Filch is my father."
Lily laughed at that; it was an accurate (not to mention incredibly reassuring) comparison of probabilities. After that, they were silent for some time.
The four of them were seated in a rectangular train compartment, dimly lit with cushioned seats on opposite walls. The lantern that hung from the ceiling swung back and forth with the motion of the train, creating a slow and even squeaking noise.
Lily sighed as she watched the green hills roll by, as if in motion. She longed to be out there. Anything would beat another year of tedious work, exams and avoiding James Potter. On top of her NEWTs and the usual workload, Lily now had all the duties that came with being Head Girl on her plate.
It wasn't as though Lily was not an excellent student – in fact, the only person who could rival her grades was one of her best friends. Even so, she found herself wishing that Jamie had made Head Girl in her stead.
Lily took a brief moment to look at her friends, whom she had not seen since before the summer had begun. It seemed incredible that although she had known them such a long time, they had all changed so very little since that day, precisely six years ago, when they had set foot on the Hogwarts Express for the very first time.
Hannah, with her bouncy blonde curls and wide chocolate-coloured eyes, still had that same everlasting, mischievous smile on her lips. Jamie had maintained that shy and yet breathtaking beauty, with her waist-length golden locks and eyes of crystalline blue. And Regan... How exactly could one describe her? She was never anything but Regan - sarcasm, mischief and fierce protectiveness all rolled into one oddball of a witch. She had a personal rule against wearing make-up, but if it wasn't for the don't-come-within-ten-feet-of-me vibes that her look seemed to expel, the girl would actually be quite attractive, what with her deep blue eyes and raven black hair.
Upon their arrival at Hogwarts in first year, Lily, Hannah, Jamie and Regan had been brought together by a series of mishaps, some of which had taken place on the Hogwarts Express, and others which had occurred in the following week. What had caused them to bond so easily, aside from having a common enemy, was their knack for mischief. A few of them hadn't been so keen on all the rule-breaking at first, but they had quickly stood out as the brains of the group, making them crucial to the execution of any plan. The four of them had even come up with a name for their pranking group: the Rogues.
Lily was pulled from her reverie by Regan, who spoke in her usual dry, sarcastic tone, though her words were not cynical in the slightest.
"You know," she said. "Our Lily's got it all. The brains, the beauty, the backup-" (she gestured at herself, Jamie and Hannah) "- and now, the badge."
"Impressive alliteration," Lily tossed in with a nod, attempting to hide her blush.
"Thanks, Regan. Now I'm really depressed," Jamie said sulkily, folding her arms and sinking lower into the seat.
A short moment later, a familiar voice sounded from down the aisle.
"Anything from the trolley, dears?"
"That's my cue," Jamie said, and got up. "If anybody wants me, I'll be in the hallway, binging on cauldron cakes." With that, she slipped through the door and disappeared.
Silence filled the compartment for a few lengthy minutes, until it was broken, yet again, by Regan.
"What's taking her so long?" she wondered aloud, glancing at her silver watch.
They waited and waited, and finally, the door slid open. A flustered Jamie slipped in and shut it hastily behind her.
"Whoa, why the hurry?" Lily laughed, furrowing her brow. Jamie let out a squeal that was halfway between frustration and terror. She appeared unable to speak or move, so Hannah got up and helped her into a seat between herself and Regan.
"So?" Regan began to interrogate the petrified girl as soon as she was seated. "Spill!"
Jamie gulped and at last seemed to find her voice. "Well, I was in the middle of buying four cauldron cakes – one for each of us of course, but you know what a pig I would've looked like, buying that many."
Lily nodded sympathetically.
"Cut to the chase!" Regan urged impatiently.
"Okay, okay!" Jamie cried defensively. "Anyway, I was buying the cauldron cakes when who should come along but Frank."
Frank was one of the two seventh year Gryffindor boys who wasn't a Marauder - and that, Lily thought, was one effortless thing he had going for him. On the other hand, even though he wasn't particularly unattractive or repulsive in any way, his shy and studious manner - something he had in common with Jamie - made him almost invisible to most girls.
"So he came along, and I panicked and tried to hide the cauldron cakes in my pocket, which of course made the trolley lady think I was shoplifting - and made a right mess of my robes - so I apologised and quickly paid for them. Anyway, Frank came up to me and asked if we could have a short talk, so I got all confused and followed him like some bumbling idiot to the back of the train. Then-"
Regan yawned loudly.
"Hey!" Jamie cried out, looking insulted. "Weren't you the one who asked to hear this story in the first place?"
"Ignore her," said Hannah, covering Regan's mouth with her hand. "Go on."
"Okay. So this is the weird part. He told me that he thinks I'm really pretty, which of course is alright - I mean, I get that all the time-"
"Hey, she was only being honest." Hannah shrugged.
"Guys!" exclaimed Lily. "Shut up and let her finish the story!"
"Thank you, Lily." Jamie nodded at her. "Well, then he started mumbling weirdly for a minute, like he'd forgotten I was even there. Then, out of the blue, he..." She paused, swallowing audibly. Then she looked at them very gravely and announced, "He asked me out."
Everyone clapped their hands to their mouths – including Jamie.
"Are you serious?" Lily said, holding back laughter. "Frank Longbottom asked you out? What on Earth did you say?" Come to think of it, it wasn't all that strange. She just couldn't imagine the painfully timid Frank Longbottom actually plucking up the courage to ask a girl on a date. Of course, because of this, Jamie had been a wise choice - she, too, was shy by nature, and was less likely to throw it back in his face than almost any other girl at Hogwarts.
"I said I'd think about it," Jamie replied quietly, confirming Lily's suspicions.
"You idiot!" Regan exclaimed, clapping her gently on the back of the head. "Now you've gone and gotten his hopes up!"
Before Jamie could respond, the girls were distracted by something just outside the window. It resembled a small black box, and was suspended about a foot from the train, as if levitating midair.
"What the hell is that?" Hannah wondered aloud, her forehead creasing in confusion. "I don't remember seeing-"
Then, so suddenly that Lily's heart jumped into her throat, a tall human figure appeared, plastered against the window pane. Its face was distorted – eyes wide, mouth stretched, cheeks misshapen - as it was pressed hard against the glass. Its appearance was so abrupt and so startling that all four of them screamed at the top of their lungs, jumping out of their seats and hurrying away from the window; Jamie fell back into Regan, causing them both to land on the floor. There was a flash of light, and the figure disappeared.
They looked at each other in frightened amazement, exchanging silent questions with their eyes. No one said anything for a while, but, as usual, it was Regan who broke this trend.
"What the bloody hell was that?" she said loudly, her voice shaky and her breathing heavy from the shock as she helped Jamie to her feet.
Lily could only stare, gobsmacked, out the window. Her gaze remained steadily fixed on the place where the figure had been only seconds ago. So steadily fixed, in fact, that she barely heard Hannah say, with an overload of vehemence, "Why, those little gits..."
Lily broke out of her trance just in time to see the blonde on her way out of the compartment. "Wait, Hannah, where are you going?" she asked.
"Sirius," growled Hannah, and flung the door open.
It was at that moment that the answer finally dawned on Lily. A wave of frustration washed over her, and she stomped after Hannah. Jamie and Regan tagged along as well. Ahead of Lily, Hannah halted in front of the compartment to the left of theirs. She huffed and threw open the door.
"You!" she cried.
A chuckle and a deep, mocking voice came from inside. "Well, if it isn't the Rogues."
Seated in the compartment were four boys lounging about in that typical, careless teenage-boy manner. One, sporting glasses, had a snitch in his hand and was gently plucking at its fluttering silver wings; a second had his feet up on a trunk and was flipping lazily through a book of some sort, while another, who was rather pudgy with stringy hair, was stuffing a pumpkin pasty into his mouth. He looked up when the Rogues barged in, his cheeks bulging out comically. The fourth boy was sprawled in the seat nearest the door, his legs stretched out and his hands behind his head.
More commonly referred to (well, by the Rogues, at least - the general population was somewhat love struck when it came to three of the Marauders, though Lily couldn't understand why) as "those ruddy gits," "the enemy," or "oh, not them," the Marauders were Hogwarts' most notorious band of troublemakers, but only because the Rogues were generally more secretive in their mischievous pursuits. James, Sirius, Remus and the pathetic Peter had combined forces the very same day the Rogues had, and the two groups had clashed at once. As they often liked to say, perhaps a little overdramatically, the school wasn't big enough for the both of them. So after the first not-so-pleasant meeting, when the groups had repelled each other like the wrong ends of two magnets, they'd declared each other enemies, and the war had begun.
Lily had worried about this year to some degree, because, as she was sure they were all aware, it marked the conclusion of their epic battle. The pranks would be more brutal than ever before. Not only that, but neither team would settle until a winner had been decided. Who knew how it would be resolved? One way or another, it was sure to be big.
Presently, the Marauders looked as though they were struggling against an enormous laughing fit. Lily had a sudden urge to strangle them; unfortunately, Hannah got there first. She grabbed Sirius by the collar of his robes and, with surprising force, hoisted him into a standing position.
"Easy, Milton!" Sirius choked, though he made a point of giving the impression that he was hardly bothered by her at all.
"What did you do?" Hannah spat, furious.
"Oi, Milton," James called out, fighting against laughter. "D'you suppose he might tell you if you stopped choking him?" His voice, Lily was surprised to note, was much less taunting than usual; it had an almost... well, authoritative tone to it. How strange.
Raging, Hannah pulled her hand away from Sirius and, instead, drew her wand. "If you want to stop me rearranging your face, then you'd better speak now – and FAST!" she threatened.
Sirius chuckled, but stopped immediately when Hannah made to flick her wand at him.
"Alright, alright!" Sirius gave in, and turned to James. "Oi, Prongs! Give us the picture!"
"Prongs?" Regan laughed; it had a dark edge to it. "What are you, a fork?"
The Rogues burst out laughing despite the tension in the air. They'd heard the Marauders' odd nicknames before, but apparently Regan had only now concocted that joke - which, Lily had to admit, was pretty good, considering how difficult it was to have any impact when ridiculing the Marauders. Even Peter had to bury a snort in his sleeve; Remus responded to this by giving him a swift smack on the shoulder with his book, which looked very heavy. Peter mouthed a silent "What was that for?" but Remus did not respond, as he was too busy watching James pull a piece of glossy parchment from his pocket.
"Classic," chuckled James as he passed the parchment to Sirius. "Perfect blackmail material, if I may say so myself."
"Well, we can't believe that until you show it to us," said Jamie with impatience, crossing her arms resolutely.
"Fine," said Sirius, smirking. "Take a look, then."
He held the parchment up so that the girls could see what was on it. Lily expelled an angry gasp at what she saw. It was not, in fact, just any old piece of parchment, but a full-motion, black and white photograph. The four people in it – Lily made out her friends' faces and her own – were in their seats one moment, and the next, they leapt up, and, rather embarrassingly, screamed in terror, tripping over one another as they stumbled away from the window. Expressions of shock were blatantly displayed upon their faces, which were distorted with fright. It was then that Lily realized what the black box outside the window had been: a camera, waiting to capture their expressions in picture. James was right – this was perfect blackmail material.
Ugh, thought Lily. Trust the Marauders to come up with a nasty trick like this. She wondered how long it would take for them to pin up copies of the photograph all around Hogwarts.
"Clever, huh?" Sirius said smugly, holding the photograph far over Hannah's head while she desperately tried to snatch it out of his grasp, jumping and reaching to no avail (he had a massive height advantage over her, which was something he never ceased to put to use). "All we really needed was a bit of sticky-flesh potion and a simple levitation charm for the camera, and voila! Priceless expressions! I wonder what the students of Hogwarts will think of it when we enlarge it and stick it up in the Great Hall. I think a mural would be very appropriate, don't you?" He regarded the image as if genuinely considering his design options.
"You wouldn't dare," Jamie said dangerously. Her voice was low and very serious, her eyes narrowed with fury. Lily, seeing fit to take more direct action, marched up to Sirius, looked straight into his eyes - which, infuriatingly, had "What are you going to do about it?" written all over them - and said, with a tone of indignation:
"Fine. Let them see it. Anyone would scream if they saw your ugly mug stuck to a train window."
Sirius' smirk faltered a little, but he was evidently trying not to let her words disturb the Marauders' moment of glory. Thoroughly fed up, Lily marched out of the compartment, her friends close behind. Just before she closed the door, she stuck her head back in and added:
"Oh, and if that prank was the best you've got, you guys are seriously in trouble - and that pun was very much intended, Sirius." With that, she shut the door and followed her friends back to their compartment.
A/N: Like it? Hate it? Completely indifferent? Whatever your opinion is, please make sure to leave a review and tell me what you think. :) Constructive criticism is welcomed, and I'll gladly take any suggestions into consideration. I'm sorry about the lack of real Lily/James action in this chapter (I kind of had to establish the whole feud thing to start off with), but there's more to come soon - I swear!