"James, since Remus is unavailable someone needs to cover his patrol."
"Oh," he replied. "I'll take it," he offered understanding her pointed look.
"All right," she said once they moved away from the eaves dropping portraits, "what's going on?" she demanded.
"Huh?" James responded.
"I want to know what's going on?" she repeated.
"Lily, I'm not sure I understand..."
"Don't you dare, James Potter. I know something is up. I've been watching all day. None of you are communicating. And I don't know if I've ever witnessed such a cold shoulder act. I'm surprised Harry doesn't have icicles hanging from his robes. Now I gather it has something to do Sirius' crush on Hermione."
Muttering James cursed Lily's perception abilities. "Fine," he grumbled. As he outlined the gist of the early morning activities a sudden thought occurred to him. "Hey maybe you could do something."
"I don't see what."
"Talk to Hermione and find out what's really going on. I mean Harry and Hermione have both been adamant about nothing between them except friendship."
"Why do you care so much?"
"Because I'm worried about Sirius," he stated simply.
"Yes, he does like her a lot."
"Yeah," he agreed.
Considering his plan she balked, "Why don't the two of you talk to Harry. Why haven't you already done that?"
"Sirius isn't in the mood to talk; besides what we saw speaks louder than all their denials."
"Then why would Sirius believe me?"
"Because you're a girl."
"Wow, what an observation," Lily snapped sarcastically.
"I mean girls are more apt to spill things to other girls. Boys don't really do the heart to heart thing."
"I've noticed," Lily said walking away. She'd talk to Hermione, but not because James had asked her to, but because she'd planned on it anyway.
"Yes?" Hermione said in a tone barring further conversation.
A lesser person would have given up. "I realize you don't want to, but I think it might do some good to talk about what's bothering you."
"And who said anything was bothering me?" Hermione fired back a pasted smile on her face.
"I do," Lily admonished sitting beside Hermione. "Look, James told me about this morning, now can I hear your side of it?"
"Ugh, those boys are bigger gossips than half the girls here. I mean really. It was an accident," she explained.
"I'm sorry," Lily said. "How is it an accident?"
"It's all their fault. Sirius and James. They spelled Harry's curtains to attack him if he tried to get out of bed. He tried this morning and was thrown onto me. I know it looked like something else but it was completely innocent," pleaded Hermione. "He's my best friend nothing more. We'd never do that especially not to Ginny."
"His girlfriend and the closest girl friend I have. I would never jeopardize either relationship. I mean we love each other like brother and sister. It's stupid and it should have been hilarious. It really should have only I can't figure out why it's not."
"It's scandalous," explained Lily skirting a more detailed response. "If that's all it was I wouldn't let it upset me so much. You and Harry know nothing happened so don't act guilty."
"I didn't realize I was acting guilty."
"You didn't explain the situation to the boys."
"I thought they knew us well enough to know."
"Yes well I heard it was quite a scene," smirked Lily.
"I suppose," Hermione smiled coyly back.
George had struggled all day not to let what happened this morning plague him. He did not succeed. Harry and Hermione refused to discuss the matter leading him to believe not all was as it seemed. Not receiving the full details had allowed his imagination to wander and he was appalled at his revelations. Then Hermione and Harry offered silence. His temper was slowly getting the better of him. He'd try one more time because the image in his head had to be wrong.
George found Harry and Sirius in a starring contest in their room. Daggers were flying between the two.
"All right, Harry?" George turned his statement into a question.
"Yeah, what's going on?"
"You tell me."
"Not you too," complained Harry.
"I guess I'd like an explanation."
Harry gave George an unbelieving expression. Squaring his shoulders George stood over his friend waiting for the words to ease the worry.
"I shouldn't have to explain this to you," responded Harry stubbornly, his own temper flaring. Of all the people here he expected George to automatically understand the situation was innocent.
"Harry, mate it didn't look so good."
Sirius paid close attention to the pair knowing he'd either get the full story or he'd watch Harry get his arse kicked because George was none too happy. James picked this time to enter the room. He saw George and Harry staring angrily at one another. Sirius motioned him to be quiet. Standing by the door James tuned to the impending argument.
"What are you trying to say?" asked Harry standing to face his friend.
"I'm not trying to insinuate things, but you can't claim it was a completely normal situation."
"You think Hermione and I would do that?" Harry stressed the last word intoning his meaning.
"I don't know what to think, you haven't offered any details," interjected George feeling what was left of his calm slipping away. "How could you do that to my sister? Are you even thinking about Ginny?" demand George.
"I cannot believe you would think so little of me," Harry said his voice rising with every word. "Of course I'm thinking about Ginny," he practically yelled. "Hermione and I are friends nothing more."
"Then what was that this morning?" shouted George.
James tried and failed to stifle the laughter. He drew their attention away from each other.
"What are you laughing at?" Harry glared. "It's your own bloody fault."
"Huh?" James asked inelegantly.
"You and your stupid curtain prank. I was trying to get up when the curtains threw me back onto Hermione then Sirius," Harry pointed to the wizard in question, "opened the curtains before we could right ourselves."
"That's it?" asked George deflated.
"Really?" Sirius spoke for the first time.
"Yes, look I realize what you must have thought but Hermione and I are like brother and sister. We don't have those kinds of feelings for one another. What happened earlier was a case of bad timing and a ridiculous joke."
"Oh, man, I'm sorry," claimed George who felt stupid. "I should have known."
"Yes you should have," responded Harry his own anger not yet gone.
"How embarrassing," commented James who was realizing the hilarity of the situation now that it was all clear.
Sirius still appeared doubtful. Harry cursed under his breath. "It was worse for Hermione."
"Thanks a lot," Harry dictated to George.
"What did I do?"
"You messed everything up."
"So who's Ginny?" James asked accepting the simple clarification. He wanted to distract Sirius from coming to the determination the misunderstanding was James' fault.
"My girlfriend," disclosed Harry.
"And my sister," added George their mental sparring interrupted as they focused on their roommates.
"You have a girlfriend?"
"Don't sound so surprised."
"I mean..." James floundered.
Harry's eye brows raised in silent question.
"It's just..." James tried to find a tactful way of bringing up the bed sharing instances with Hermione.
"If you have a girlfriend why do you spend the night with Hermione?" blurted Sirius determined to get to the bottom of this.
"This again," grumbled Harry. He didn't want to clarify this any further but he knew it was no use. "I have nightmares sometimes, and Hermione helps them go away," slumping onto his bed he comprehended his words. Groaning inwardly he shoved a pillow over his face.
"All we do," Harry continued removing the pillow, "is talk. I have no romantic feelings for her nor does she have any for me. Her presence is comforting. We're close just in a platonic way."
George shuffled feeling his own idiocy. He checked Sirius reaction. He seemed to be grasping the concept. In fact his mood was lightening before their eyes.
"It's a strange relationship," noted James.
"I know, but when..." Harry stopped before he divulged more than necessary. "We're both only children we never had any siblings, we're the closest each has." Harry hoped they understood that since neither had a sibling they didn't know the rules of how they were to interact.
"It is awful to be an only child," insisted James. He found an unknown connection with Harry. James was the only child for the Potters and he'd found a lost brother in Sirius, of course they didn't share a bed. But then Sirius wasn't a girl, a cute girl at that.
"What's Ginny like?"
"Oh," Harry latched on to the new topic, "she's beautiful, smart, and a great Quidditch player," he rambled.
"Yeah," agreed George, "and a complete pest with a frightening bat bogey hex."
Sirius noticed Harry's admiration for Ginny cover his face as he talked about her. His own sour mood dissipated. It was obvious Harry was head over heels for George's sister.
"I talked to Hermione," shared Lily.
"Oh well that's all worked out," blurted James unthinking moving off to catch Sirius.
Lily huffed annoyed as she watched him walk away. Not even a thank you.
"Boys," she mumbled glowering at James, no Potter she corrected herself.
Noticing Lily's perturbed look George snuck in beside her, "I know a way to fix that," he said mischievously.
"Oh," she jumped, "you startled me. Fix what?"
"Whatever it is Potter's done to get a bee in your bonnet."
"He hasn't done anything the ungrateful git."
"Uh-huh," grinned George knowingly.
"He's just being a boy," confirmed Lily.
"Pesky things," agreed George causing Lily to really focus on him.
"Come on, Lily, don't you want to get even. I mean you were the most upset by their little stunt," he reminded her.
"It seems like you and Harry are the ones who should have a grudge."
"Oh yes, I see you've heard about the unfortunate incident the other morning."
"Naturally," she smiled sweetly. "I guess having your bed clothes confine you is a little humiliating."
"Ah, I see what you're trying to do, but it isn't going to work. Do not attempt to distract me with my own vendetta. For you see at least mine was done in privacy where as the trick you suffered was done in front of the whole school. And I know people's memories are not that short."
Blast him, Lily thought. He always managed to do things this way. Did he even realize how persuasive and manipulative he was? Seeing the gleam in his eye she knew he knew exactly what he was doing to her.
"I don't have a problem with revenge," Lily stated. "I do however have a problem entering the boy's showers."
"I've explained that."
"I still see it as a hitch in the plan."
"What's a hitch?" asked Hermione joining them.
"The whole shower thing," said George dismissively.
"I thought we've been through this," added Harry.
"It makes sense," agreed Hermione.
A look of complete astonishment met Hermione's assent.
"What?" defended Hermione.
"You don't see a problem going into the Quidditch showers?"
"No, I think the game is the best time to do it, when we know they will be occupied and they won't catch us," Hermione said calmly.
Sensing she was fighting a losing battle Lily tried a different track, "Don't you think it's mean to do it right after a game?"
"No," all three said in unison.
Smirking Hermione once again explained, "It's the perfect opportunity to knock their egos down a notch."
"What if they don't win?"
"Not win," George said dubiously.
"Of course they'll win," Hermione confided.
Harry simply nodded in agreement. The Gryffindor team would most definitely be hard to beat. It was the finest team he'd played on, besides their first game was against Slytherin. There was no way he was going to let them win.
"I should give up."
"Normally we'd applaud your bravery in trying to defy us, but no you will not win this," George admitted his tone full of trouble.
"Fine," Lily sulked. At least the first match is a couple weeks away she consoled herself plenty of time to change their minds.
"Don't count on it," whispered Harry reading her thoughts through her eyes.
Green eyes stared disbelievingly at him. "You're too easy to read," he confessed.
"Since we're all settled let's get the finer details of our plan nailed down," insisted George. "This is going to be..." he trailed off grinning madly.
"I'm scared," declared Lily to Hermione in a low voice.
Hermione nodded in agreement although she was actually looking forward to their high jinks.
"They're up to something," muttered James.
"Hhmm?" Remus answered absently glancing in the direction Prongs indicated.
"I'm sure of it, Moony," James said firmly causing Remus to take a more serious look.
"Is this a private game or can anyone join?" Sirius gave a trademark half-smile.
"Look," demanded James. "They're over there perfecting their revenge as we speak."
Remus shook his head as Sirius appraised the foursome. "Looks innocent enough to me."
"Do you not see what I'm seeing? Look at George that is not an innocent face."
"Padfoot, I think he's lost it this time," murmured Moony.
"Nah, Moony, just a bit of paranoia," chuckled the mutt.
Prongs scowled at his two best mates. "If you aren't going to take this seriously..." he admonished standing.
"Relax, Prongs, it's harmless."
"How can you say that?"
"It won't even compare to what we did to them," Sirius admitted smugly.
Remus dropped his head knowing the conversation was now wandering into dangerous territory.
"Besides," whispered Sirius conspiratorially, "the Quidditch captain can certainly keep them busy enough not allowing them time to complete their activities."
Remus permitted his head to hit the table with a dull thud. This was going to end badly.
"No worries, Moony," Sirius said clapping the werewolf on the back misinterpreting his actions.
The rain poured heavily across the castle grounds. A roaring fire provided warmth and light to the occupants of the Gryffindor common room.
"It's completely horrible outside," commented Hermione.
"Yes, it is. I don't know what Potter is thinking having Quidditch practice," Lily stated.
"He wants to win," explained Remus. "It's his last year wants to go out with a bang."
"He's never scheduled as many practices as this," said Lily. "I mean the game isn't for another few weeks. Yet they've been practicing every spare moment."
Seven sopping wet players entered the portrait hole cutting off further rationalizations. Most of them were wearing grimaces including Harry and George who looked to be covered in mud.
Hermione peeked quickly noticing the lack of mud on the rest of the team, she cast an askance glance at Harry who shook his head frowning. He hurried up the stairs with George following close behind.
Sirius and James smiled jovially earning suspicious looks from several different people.
"Why do you look like the cat that ate the canary?" Lily questioned intently.
"Wonderful practice," chimed James. "Harry's a natural flyer and some of his moves," he said in awe.
Lily did a quick double take. That was not the answer she had expected. "But..."
"Yes," offered James.
"Why are they all muddy?" Hermione interjected fixing a heated glare on the two boys.
"It's raining outside," supplied Sirius. "And see when dirt gets wet it turns into mud," he continued explaining sharing his roguish smile and wink.
Hermione and Lily exchanged glances both knowing something was up. "But you're not all dirty and mucky," Lily purred at James shifting so all her attention was focused on him.
"Some people are just more clumsy than others," Sirius interrupted whatever James was about to say. "Come on, Prongs, we need to get cleaned up."
They retreated up the stairs. "Why do I feel like there's more going on than what they're telling?" Lily turned to Remus.
"I don't know," he said. Blasted women's intuition, he thought which was joined with why can't those two gits stay out of trouble.
"You know we'll find out," added Hermione appearing bored with the whole situation.
"I don't know why you're both looking at me like that, I wasn't even there. I was here with you two doing homework."
"As if you don't know what your two best friends are up to," accused Lily.
"You know as well as I do how awful the weather is. Why did they have to do anything?"
Lily and Hermione smiled knowingly at Remus letting the subject drop.
"About Ancient Runes..." Lily began drawing their attention back to their work. Hermione frowned throwing a fleeting look at the boy's staircase.
Harry finished drying his hair with a towel before approaching George.
"So when you say you brought some products, which ones exactly?"
"Why, Harry, what have you concocted in that treacherous mind of yours?" George grinned dangerously.
"You and I both know mud doesn't just fly up out of nowhere to pelt people."
"Hhmm, yes well. I do seem to have some homemade sweets. You know some canary creams, ton tongue toffees, and some other things."
Harry and George left the dorm a few minutes later. Hermione and Lily were surprised by the sudden change in their moods.
"How was practice?" Hermione asked skeptically.
"Fine," said George.
"Good," Harry agreed.
"Don't eat the candy." Harry told her. He looked pointedly at Lily. Hermione nodded in understanding.
"I'm giving some safe pieces," remarked George who was met with unsure looks. "Honest. These," he said, "are not Wheezes."
"Would anyone like some candy?" George politely inquired holding out some sweets as James and Sirius joined them.
"Yes thank you," Lily smiled taking one. Hermione tentatively took one as well. George gave her an encouraging nod. He gave Harry the last one.
"I think I have some more," he added pulling some more out of his other pocket putting it on the table next to the marauders.
Sirius and James took pieces without caution seeing the empty wrappings in front of the girls. Remus hesitated until Harry opened his piece and ate it. The three marauders were enjoying the taste of their candies when two pops sounded.
Shrieks and laughter were heard as two large canaries took the place of Remus and Sirius.
"What the..." James stood bewildered. Where were his two best friends? Then suddenly he noticed an odd feeling in his mouth. "Wh..." was all he managed to get out as something fell from his mouth, still growing.
Lily screeched panicked leaping from her chair. "What is that?"
George, Harry, and Hermione were laughing uproariously. Lily's eyes widened as she looked from them to James, and then to the canaries. She smiled slowly then giggled as one of the canaries shook themselves shedding all the feathers.
Remus looked befuddled. His eyes found his fellow canary as Sirius molted. "What was that?" he asked.
A gasping sound drew their attention to James. His tongue was enormous falling onto the table.
"That's disgusting," commented Sirius screwing his face up. Remus pulled his wand out trying to remember engorgement charms. A sudden cough from James and his tongue shrunk back to normal.
"Improved them a bit since Dudley," George admitted.
The sudden laughter that had erupted throughout the common room faded. Hermione wiped the tears from her eyes as Lily reclaimed her seat.
"What were those?" she asked curiously examining the unopened sweets.
"Just candy," offered George off-handedly.
"Where'd you get it?" James approached intrigued.
Sirius mused, "I've never seen candy do that before."
George smirked at the inquiring people around him, "I can't go giving away all my secrets now can I?"
"Oh come on those are amazing," insisted James.
"I know," George said cockily. "But I'm still not telling."
"Why not?" pouted Sirius.
"If I have to tell you then that's just sad mate."
"It's not as if we could use them on you," Remus entered the conversation. "You'd know wouldn't you?"
"Smart man," Hermione said. "Now if you're all done fooling about we still have work to do."
"You're a hard woman, Hermione."
She turned toward James. "Do you have any idea how close N.E.W.T.s are?"
Harry laughed, "There's the Hermione we know and love."
"They're ages away," exclaimed James.
"What's all the fuss about?" Peter asked joining their group.
"Candy?" offered George quickly. Remus went to interject but he wasn't fast enough. Peter had the sweet already in his mouth. A strange look crossed his face. He held his mouth trying to keep his tongue inside.
"Better to let it out, Wormtail," advised James.
"That's even more disgusting," observed Sirius.
There wasn't as much laughter this time. People were used to seeing such tricks played on Peter.
"It's an engorgement charm?" questioned Remus.
"A simple one," George answered watching the results.
"Bloody brilliant," remarked James. "You know if we could find some more of those the snakes would be in for a nasty shock."
An evil glint appeared in Sirius' eyes. "George, come on tell us where you got them. Think of the havoc to be wreaked."
"The Slytherins wouldn't know what hit them."
Interested George and Harry leaned in closer.
"As Head Girl I want no part of this conversation. Remember I'll know exactly who committed the prank," Lily warned gathering her things.
"It's harmless, Evans. Just a bit of fun," defended James.
A gurgling sound drew their eyes back to Peter whose tongue had grown more than James' had. The poor boy was dancing around panicking watching as his tongue slid on the ground.
"George," Hermione began worriedly.
Peter had a violent spasm in which a faint cough was heard. His tongue slithered back up. Red-faced he rushed off up the stairs. A few people watched him pityingly.
"Being a prefect and all I'm not sure you want to hear the rest of this conversation," James told Remus in a bad imitation of Lily's voice.
"You being Head Boy I'd think you'd rather not get involved at all," Remus countered.
James smirked. "So are you going to tell us where these came from?"
George briefly consulted Hermione and Harry with a look. "I made them," he confessed.
Complete silence met his declaration.
"Excuse me?" asked Sirius.
"My brother and I wanted to open a joke shop. We invented some products. These candies are the tip of the iceberg."
"What else you got?" James inquired excitedly.
An impish grin on his face George shook his head denying James' his answer. "What would you do with these?" he asked showing an assortment of wrapped sweets.
"I think we can come up with something," Sirius assured them.
Hermione glanced at the boys around her trepidation filling her senses. The Slytherins were in for a real treat.
"I'd hold off if I were you," she counseled.
"And why would we want to do that?" Sirius tilted his face in her direction.
"So you don't get caught. Lily will most definitely turn the lot of you in. However if you wait a while she'll be more likely to let it go."
"If we don't make a move soon the snakes will do something to us," explained James.
"Pardon," Remus asked surprised.
"If it's in retaliation then Lily will be more sympathetic. I'd wait. I mean I'd do it when I'd least be suspected. Besides it's not like the Slytherins are just going to accept candy from you. How are you going to convince them to eat it?"
George eyed Hermione suspiciously, "What's going on in that pretty head of yours?" he asked.
"Well if it's say at a feast when treats are already on the tables then it'd be much easier to slip them something wouldn't it?"
"Why Miss Granger, you're completely devious," James said taken aback. "That could work. The only problem is the next feast isn't until Halloween."
"More time to plan," she packed away her books, "night boys," she said leaving them to their schemes.
Sirius watched her walk away with a new admiration shining in his eyes. He marveled at how saucy she was.
"Padfoot," James said sternly gaining his friend's attention.
"Are we going to work with this lot or what?"
"The real question is are we going to work with you considering we have the products," George added.
"And the brains," contributed Harry.
"I don't see the reason we need to work with you at all," grinned George who stood. "Come on, Harry." Both boys went up the stairs leaving behind some dumbfounded expressions.
"You know I think you boys finally met your match," commented Remus who got up as well. "Night," he smirked.
Sirius and James exchanged mystified looks. What had just happened?
"Are you sure this was such a good idea?" Harry asked nervously.
"Yeah it'll be fine. Professor Flitwick won't be too harsh with them."
"What are you two on about?" Hermione joined the conversation.
"You'll see," answered George.
Charms class passed in a blur. Flitwick gave copious pages of notes. They ran out of time before they managed to practice the new charm. Transfiguration was a completely different story.
"Take out your wands," commanded McGonagall.
"George," pleaded Harry.
"Too late now."
Thanks for reading. I'd really like to know what you think so any and all reviews are appreciated.