Disclaimer: What if I were JK Rowling? Can you imagine a world like that? Picture, if you will, picture an England ruled in the iron fist of Jack Funnylastname, my minions numerous and puissant, where people use the word "puissant" when there's no real call to inflict ten-dollar language like that on people.
It's probably just as well that I'm not JK Rowling, and don't own the Harry Potter whatnot, because I doubt you lot would enjoy it.
It was a dark and stormy night. Such weather does occasionally occur, despite the opinions of literary experts everywhere. It was the kind of weather that even sapped mirth. Unburdened by the desire to make mischief, and the full moon a week past, even the most trouble-making students at Hogwarts were devoting themselves to schoolwork, hoping to pass the time until the sky cleared.
With one exception.
"It's pissing out there," said Sirius in the tone of an expert.
"Have you been outside in it, Padfoot?" asked Remus, looking up from his textbook.
"You smell like a wet dog. Does your body just wait for the time to exude odors appropriate to the weather?"
"Yes. Yes it does." He stretched, leaning back in his chair, flipping his long hair out of his face in a fashion that he thought made him look cool. On anyone else it would have looked like he had a nervous twitch, but on him it really did look cool. "You should sniff me in the springtime. I smell like daisies and fresh—"
"I know that you're going to say something crude sooner or later, I'm going to stop you now," said Remus. "No describing what you smell like in the girls' dormitories or in any of the places you go to have sex that you think I don't know about."
What might have become a friendly argument between the two was defused when Peter threw down his textbook. He looked up, confidently. "Done! Ask me anything."
"How do you deal with the problem of color arrangement when Transfiguring something into a bouquet of flowers?" asked James as he came into the common room, Lily alongside him looking slightly frazzled.
"...Son of a..." Peter returned to studying, looking cross.
James took a seat on the other end of the sofa, tossing his books on the table in front of him. "You'll get it, Wormtail."
Lily sat down between James and Peter. "Hello, Wormy," she said with a smile.
Sirius smirked at Peter, who, by dint of great effort, managed not to blush. "So, Peter, can I call you Wormy too?"
"Can I call you Dog-Breath?" Peter snapped back. Sirius laughed.
"Quit flirting, you two. I have a paper to write, and I'll probably need help," said Lily. "I don't know what I'm getting wrong in Defense Against the Dark Arts, but it's driving me mad. I'm going to fail my NEWT at this rate. Hand us that book, would you, Remus?"
Remus passed over his textbook, eyebrow raised. "Didn't you get an O on your OWL?"
She shrugged. "Different professors, different expectations, I suppose. Besides, this is NEWT level, isn't it? We're expected to suffer a bit for our art. I can't be the only one who got a fifteen on the last quiz, right?" Lily looked around when no one responded. "Right? What'd you get?"
"Eighteen." The last was Peter. Before Sirius could say it, he added, "If I did better than you, Professor Johnson made a mistake."
"If Wormtail—dammit, Peter!" Peter stuck his tongue out. Sirius stuck his out, then turned to Lily. "How did you get a fifteen? Let me see it," he said, his marginal sanity temporarily focused by curiosity. Lily dug the parchment from the bottom of her bag and handed it over. "This is crazy. You identified all the hallmarks of vampirism, you highlighted the differences between a zombie and an Inferi better than I did... I mean, the worst mistake you have here is that you put the kappa in the wrong area. That's not worth five points. If anything, I would suggest that you deserve bonus points for postulating that wizards who use Inferi do so out of a fear of reprisal from their subordinates."
The other four just stared, as they often did when they were reminded that Sirius was actually brilliant. Lily was the first to recover. "That's what I thought. I'm going to talk to Professor Johnson about it."
"Talk to, yell at, same thing," said James.
"Only with I'm talking to you, love."
Remus and James waited for Lily outside of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.
"Peter talked to Jessica Lapin during lunch. Evidently she's having trouble in his classes too." Remus was leaning against the wall opposite the door, holding a lock of hair in front of his face so he could see it. "I've always imagined that the Ravenclaws would have an easier time of it than most. Perhaps he grades the more intelligent students harder."
"Not necessarily. Bertram Aubrey's a prat, isn't he? The Sorting Hat only said you had to value intelligence, not have it. What are you doing?" James indicated Remus' hair examinations.
"I think I'm going gray. I knew I should have paid attention in Charms when we were learning how to change hair color."
"It makes you look dashing, Moony."
"It's also one of the lesser known symptoms of lycanthropy." Remus said this in a whisper. "It's not as if I need to advertise."
"You'll be fine, we'll hit the library later and look them up." Lily came out of the room very calmly then. "Hi, Lils. Lilian. Lillums. Get your marks all lined up?"
"No." It was then that James realized that she was only calm because her anger had become too much to express through mere rage. "No, I didn't. I doubt I'm going to." She walked away from the room very quickly; James hurried after her and Remus had to jog to keep up.
"What's wrong?" asked James repeatedly as they walked to the Great Hall, but Lily refused to answer. Eventually she sat down next to Sirius, made a plate, and then pushed it away from her.
"What's got her knickers in a knot?" asked Sirius, with some difficulty (as he tried to speak while swallowing). He had gone through three plates thus far.
"Bugger if I know. She won't tell us."
"Oh, that reminds me," said Peter (who was only on his second). "You know, I was talking to Angela Mignonne, the Hufflepuff girl in our Transfiguration class, and she's having problems with Johnson too."
"Ha! I'm not surprised there," said Lily, having lost enough of her anger to actually begin to appear angry. She was shaking as she stabbed a potato with her fork. She didn't eat it, she just stabbed it. "Do you want to know what that... that son of awhore said to me? I'm the Head bloody Girl and he said... Forget it. I can't... I'm going to go take a walk. I'll be back."
The four boys watched her walk away, then three of them looked expectantly at James. "Oh, no," he said. "I know her. Right now the best thing I can do for her is wait for her to wear herself out being angry and then come back."
"Wonder what Johnson could have said to chafe her... her... waffles?" said Peter.
"I don't know, but I think—waffles?"
"I realized too late that there's no phrase that really goes with 'chafe' and I have food on the mind."
"It must have been something bad, to get to Lily like that," said Remus. "I wonder if he's said anything to Angela or Jessica."
"Wait a tick." Sirius stood up and made his way to the Slytherin table. A few minutes later he came back, a hand print across his cheek. "You'll be happy to know that Reg is doing well, but his little girlfriend isn't. And apparently she doesn't like me? Imagine."
"What does that prove?" asked James.
"Regulus has always been terrible at Defense. Even worse than Peter."
"Before I left Grimmauld Place, Reg was constantly bragging about how clever his little girlfriend was, about how her pure breeding gave her these fantastic abilities, and so forth. Funny how all these brilliant girls we know are doing poorly while people like Regulus and Peter—"
"Seriously, mate, thanks."
"—are suddenly doing so well. He's showing favoritism to boys." He sat down, a look of satisfaction on his face. He raised his glass of pumpkin juice as if toasting himself. "I'm like Sherlock bloody Holmes."
"All right, let's say, for the sake of argument, he's sexist. What do we do about it?" James looked around for suggestions.
"I suppose we could go to McGonagall. Or old Sluggy, he's sweeter on Lily than you are, Prongs." Remus voiced the logical course of action out of habit. His friends gave him a Where's the fun in that? look.
"I've got an idea," said James. "When Muggles don't like something, they protest it. I reckon we could do the same, couldn't we? Make it clear that he can stick it up his jumper."
"Civil disobedience, is the phrase," said Remus, who already had an inkling of where this was going. "But what would that accomplish that going to McGonagall wouldn't?"
"So how do you do this civil disobedience thing?" asked Peter.
Remus sighed as Sirius began to explain. "It depends. Gandhi did a hunger strike. Black Muggles in America sat in the front of buses. Or... maybe in front of buses. I'm not sure, Muggle Studies hasn't gotten that far yet."
"So we'd just have to do something that chafes Johnson's waffles enough that he doesn't do it anymore," said James, grinning.
Remus, who was watching James and Sirius suspiciously, wasn't expecting it when it was Peter who said, "I've got an idea."
A week later, as they waited in a line outside of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Peter was fidgeting uncomfortably. "This was a bad idea."
"It was a fantastic idea, and I love you from the heart of my bottom," said James. "Maybe I should be worried about how comfortable I am."
"As we have established in the past, I am the pinnacle of machismo, my friend," said Sirius, who looked even more at ease than usual. "You can feel as comfortable as you want, because I'm kind of digging it. Besides, we can't put it off much longer. Look at Lily."
Unwilling to go to Professor McGonagall and unable to change Johnson's policies, Lily had decided to simply go insane. She was determined to be such a perfect student that Johnson was unable to find fault with her. Occasionally she muttered, "...tell me girls just aren't cut out for defense... I'll defend him right in his bloody arse... I'll tell you where you can find the kappa..."
"You're right. We probably can't wait." That didn't stop Peter's fidgeting, though.
"We're all prepared, right?" asked Remus, who liked to do his stupid things properly.
"I am. Transfigured some of my clothes. I had a pair of leather trousers my cousin Andromeda sent me, so it worked pretty well."
"I Transfigured mine as well," said Remus, adjusting his robes, "but I didn't quite get the pattern I was hoping for."
"Catalogue, mate. Quick, easy, delivered by owl this morning," said James. Peter nodded that he'd done the same.
"Hello, all," said Professor Johnson, who would be a much more welcome sight if not for his tacit misogyny. The four waited for everyone else to go inside the classroom.
"Ready, boys? For God and country?"
"That wasn't a dirty pun, was it, Padfoot?" asked Remus suspiciously.
"Get your mind out of the gutter, my friend."
"All right." James removed his robes. "Let's go, girls."
There are some sights that a man will be haunted by for the rest of his life. For Professor Johnson, near the top of that list would be the four seventh-year boys who came into his classroom dressed in skirts, blouses, and high heels. No one laughed. It would have been better if someone had, to make it a joke or anything but real life.
Perhaps most horrifying of all was the fact that, in the strictest sense, they didn't look bad.
"Professor Johnson!" said James, stepping forward. Johnson had seen the kind of outfit he wore on Muggle schoolgirls. He fancied he could smell perfume coming off James. "We, James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew disapprove of your sexist grading policies—"
"Oh, Lord," muttered Lily, burying her head in her arms.
"—and we demand a change!"
"What a coincidence. I demand you change your clothes." Johnson wrote something on a piece of parchment and tapped it with his wand, sending it flying out the door. "Now, lads, I'm sure this is just a bit of youthful high spirits—"
"You're an ass!" Peter stepped forward, his horrifyingly short dress billowing as he did. "And you can stick it up your jumper!"
Johnson just looked at him and Peter rushed behind his taller friends. Remus stepped forward. "We felt this would be more effective in grabbing your attention than simply speaking to you." He was self-consciously tugging his skirt down as he spoke. The depths I go for friendship, he thought.
"I think that you lads should go see Professor McGonagall. Immediately." Johnson's impatience was growing.
"I notice your jovial schoolmaster voice is gone, Professor," said Sirius, who'd gone the distance and was wearing make-up. "Is that because we're girl enough that you can treat us like them? Perhaps you'll start marking down our exams, or find other ways to treat us like sh—"
"No, Mr. Black, I think he means that you should see me because I am here." Professor McGonagall walked into the classroom. While the concept of civilly disobeying Professor Johnson had been simple enough, the boys found themselves unwilling to insult McGonagall.
"Thank you, Professor," said Johnson, but before he could say any more, McGonagall snapped, "I will talk to you later about the accusations these boys are making."
Professor McGonagall had seen a lot of students in her office. None more often than James and Sirius. "At the risk of repeating myself from... every single day since you four arrived in Gryffindor House, what is the meaning of this?" She gave them a look, the intensity not even slightly diminished by the fact that it was spread between the four of them.
James was the first to speak, trying to sound as brave as possible. "Professor, we felt the need to protest sexist policies in Professor Johnson's class, and if we were forced to engage in... what's the word?"
"Civil disobedience," said Remus.
"Right, civil disobedience. If we had to do that, then so be it."
"Of course I don't approve of sexism in any form," said McGonagall, eyebrows raised in the fashion they did when she was approving of things she generally didn't let herself approve of. "But I fail to see how wearing something like... that... promises to accomplish anything."
"It's quite simple, Professor," said Sirius. "You see, we dress as girls. Then... hmm." He looked at the others, silently asking for help that none of them could provide.
"I did tell you," said Remus.
"Yes, but you tell us these things all the time, it's all just white noise." To McGonagall he said, "It's protest. They're a form of protest, knickers are. Ask anyone."
For the briefest of moments, they fancied they could see a smirk on McGonagall's face. "You will each have a detention, to be assigned later. I will talk with Professor Johnson, and afterwards, should I find that the offense is worse than I currently understand, I may find reason to increase the severity of the punishment accordingly. In the meantime, you may go."
Perhaps she thought that having the four walk back to Gryffindor Tower in women's clothing was punishment. They didn't particularly mind, though. "Peter, don't think me funny or anything, but you really have the legs for that skirt."
"I am being completely honest here."
"It's true," said James. "You should look into purchasing a kilt."
Peter sighed. "Sirius, you said something about knickers in there..."
"You're not actually wearing them, are you?"
Sirius was silent for a moment, then he said, "Aren't you lot?"
They'd avoided being seen on the way to Gryffindor Tower thanks to their knowledge of more Hogwarts secrets than most students, but there was no way of disguising themselves once they got there. The Fat Lady looked tempted to make a remark, but only smirked as she swung open to let them in.
Lily was the first to greet them at the door, but the common room was full of people wolf-whistling and, in no small measure, applauding. Lily threw a hug around each of them in turn, ending with James who also got a kiss. "Someone came in just before you, they said that McGonagall threatened to hex Johnson into a puddle if she heard even a rumor of impropriety. You should go get changed, though."
Sirius didn't even give it thought. "No, these skirts are our trophies! Symbols of our great battle against intolerance. Besides, this skirt is terribly comfortable, don't you think, Wormtail?" He looked at his friend, who was talking to a girl near the fire. Sirius could just hear her saying that he was "so brave". "See?"
Remus rolled his eyes. "I'm going to go get changed. You two can keep the skirts on."
"We will! Right, Prongs?" James gave him a thumbs-up, too otherwise occupied with Lily's mouth to reply. "Damn right!"
Attention! If the concept of Sirius, Remus, Peter, and James in drag offends your sensibilities, do not have read the preceding fic!
You have been postemptively warned!