The Black Twins
Albus's plan failed, the war was lost. But his forgotten brother, Aberforth, has a plan too, a plan 'B', a plan that no normal person would even imagine, much less put into action. Then again; Aberforth has never really been normal. His plan, however, had consequences not even he could imagine, and it slipped and twisted from his grasp, laughing wildly as it dove into the realms of chaos. Ladies and gentlemen, hold onto your broomsticks, the Black twins are coming to Hogwarts. MWPP era.
Thanx everyone, and ~Gold Stars~ for padfootROX and Finnja!
This is officially the longest chappie I have ever written! I know I took ages in getting it out and it might be a while before the next one 'cause my exams started again and I'm busy writing other stuff, so as compensation (drum roll) here is a FIFTY TWO A4 PAGE CHAPTER! ~ ta-da ~ (crowd cheers wildly) thank you, thank you…
A-hem… and now what you've all be waiting for…
The Era of Chaos
Life past by pretty much uneventfully after that trip to Diagon Alley, this was mostly because the twins were being punished. Their Mother had been absolutely lethally livid when they returned to the 'Leaky Cauldron'. Lucius had come fuming in about twenty minutes before them and told their Mother – everything – that happened in the bookshop, ranting about how they'd blamed him, how he'd had to apologise to the 'Flourish and Blotts' owner, how the twins had ran… blah, blah, blah. But Walburga had listened to every word with barely contained fury, and this was before she heard about the mouse incident…
Walburga sent them straight to their room – for the rest of the time before school. They had been dragged up the stairs by some spell and thrown in their bedroom; the door had locked behind them and hadn't opened since. Well, except for when Kreacher gleefully came once a day to take them to the bathroom. He would talk to himself about how the twins got what they deserved for making his poor mistress suffer, and tie each of them up in ropes so they wouldn't escape. They were prisoners in their own house.
The first couple of days had been the worst as Walburga had ordered Kreacher not to send up any food. They'd gone hungry until their Mother relented and Kreacher sent up a large plate of grey mush. Sirius still had the Shrinking Bag with him and all the supplies they had got in Diagon Alley, as well as the cat treats for Sapphire; so the cat was probably the best fed out of the three of them. The plates of mush must have had a sustaining ingredient or spell on it, because the twins never seemed to lose any weight, and it tasted awful enough for something like that.
Still, they had each other and they had the Hogwarts supplies and Sapphire to entertain them, it was even better in some ways because they didn't have to worry about hiding her. Though it did get terribly boring being locked in their room; they had looked over all the school books out of boredom, getting the basics of all the first-year material in them. Harry played with Sapphire a lot; she really liked the cat toys. But he also had to be careful with them, the Bouncy Boomerang Ball could be almost deadly if you bounced it too hard in the small room, causing a lot of damage before coming back to Harry's hand, so he mostly rolled it around the floor for Sapphire to play with.
Regulus sometimes talked to them through the door, but the twins hadn't much else to do but speculate about Hogwarts and wait for the day when they could leave.
"Si-ri…it's time for school…"
"Five more minutes," Sirius mumbled, before going back to snoring.
Harry shrugged his shoulders, "Have it your way then."
"Argghh–pah! Gah! Arrrghhh! Get it – OFF!" Sirius struggled wildly, his voice rising higher in pain as he tried to get the small black cat off his face, "what the hell! Haaarrryyy! OUCH! GET YOUR DEMON FURBALL OFF ME!" Sapphire had latched her claws into him, and didn't seem to be letting go anytime soon. Harry had collapsed on the floor laughing at his twin's plight.
"–Will you – get up?" Harry gasped between laughs.
"–Say – please –"
"Sapphire, you gorgeous girl, come here or you'll mess up your lovely fur," Harry called, and instantly Sapphire jumped off Sirius and leapt into Harry's arms, purring loudly.
Sirius glowered at Harry's smug expression, his face was red, and his hair was all mussed up, "I always knew you were the evil twin," he growled, moving to get up, "you do that at school and I'll throw you in the lake…wait… school?"
"School!" Sirius cheered, leaping up with surprising agility for someone who had been sound asleep not moments before. He jumped up on his bed and began bouncing on it, throwing pillows and bed covers everywhere. Both the twins were more than ready to go, their school things packed away in the family heirloom trunks. The trunks had the Black insignia on the front, with silver stands, hinges and handles, and snake designs carved into the dark-wood. There were thirteen different compartments of various sizes, most of which held their school stuff, leaving a couple empty. In Harry's, however, inside one of the larger compartments were the cat carrier cage and other cat necessities. He was going to wait for the last minute to put Sapphire in the carrier, so she'd be in there for as little as possible.
Sirius paused in his bouncing, "What time is it?" he asked curiously.
"Just past nine, so we have plenty of–"
"BOYS!" came their Mother's screech through the door. Harry paled – dithered – and then dived towards the wardrobe, hurrying to get Sapphire out of sight. He just managed to shut the kitten in, when their bedroom door burst open and the Black mistress stood forebodingly in the doorway.
"We leave in precisely forty-five minutes, make yourselves presentable in attire that is apt for the Black family heirs. I won't have you disgracing our name anymore then you already have," Walburga spat. She sniffed disdainfully at the messy room the twins had been confined to, glaring at Sirius who was still posed on the bed and at Harry who was standing a little edgily in front of the wardrobe.
Came a muffled noise from the wardrobe, Harry hastily started coughing to cover it. Walburga's eyes narrowed as her gaze zeroed in on him suspiciously.
"Today marks a new era in your lives, you will at long last learn some respect!" she sneered, thinking that Harry was laughing. With that, their Mother swept away towards the stairs, leaving the door open.
"Free at last," Sirius smirked finally hopping off the bed. Harry sighed with relief and let a dishevelled Sapphire out of the wardrobe.
"Yeah, we're getting out of this accursed house."
An old man; wearing a brown travelling cloak and robes with a knobbly wooden walking stick in one hand, grumbled to himself in the cold morning air at the station. Aberforth was waiting on Platform 9¾, off to the side of the red engine of the Hogwarts Express and out of everyone's way, observing the students and families that had already arrived with shrewd blue eyes. The last ten years had not been easy for Aberforth; he'd had to avoid nearly all that he had known in his past life lest someone recognised him. He occasionally wore disguises if they were necessary, but that was bothersome. Nowadays he didn't even have his beloved pub, 'The Hog's Head' anymore, since his younger self of this time currently owned it. He had spent some years searching for the Boy-Who-Lived, but there were no reports of a lost babe being found, and the Potters still only had a single son. The wizarding world was so big, and Aberforth had no idea where or when Harry had landed, he could be in the Muggle world even, hell the boy could be dead and he wouldn't know.
So without Harry Potter, Aberforth set off travelling and researching, trying to find a means to stop a war that hadn't happened yet. He undertook to try and remember everything he could about the first war with Lord Voldemort, and he knew that the war had begun this year, 1971. This year was also the one Harry would have gone to Hogwarts if he had grown up in this era, which was why Aberforth was now waiting at the station, hoping to catch a glimpse, or better yet a word, with the illusive boy wonder.
Even though it was too early for the train to leave; already quite a crowd of students mingled about the platform. Soon it would be awash with even more activity, as hordes of parents and students bearing enormous trunks and caged owls would move about the steam, their voices carrying through the mist and the billowing smoke from the scarlet train. Aberforth wrinkled his nose at the smell, and gave a hacking cough, peering at the faces of arriving students. Aberforth scowled, none of them appeared to have any resemblance to Harry Potter, though some who met his gaze shrank back fearfully and unconsciously stepped closer to their parent. The increasing noise was starting to grate on the old man's nerves as more young wizards and witches arrived, greeting their friends excitedly, and in high spirits at starting the new school year.
Broken conversation drifted across the platform as if carried by the smoke, only fragments reaching Aberforth's ears as people hurried past.
"– make sure you've got–"
"– Mum, Kyle pushed me!"
"– to see you! How's your–"
"– must have lost it, sorry–"
"– I wanna go, please–"
"– Georgia, missed you so much–"
"– let go, that's not fair–"
"– on your best behaviour, if I get one more letter about you–"
"– oh no! I forgot my–"
"– and don't worry about the sorting, you'll be fine–"
Aberforth ground his teeth, trying to block out the incessant sound, instead concentrating on the faces of the first-year students.
"– that's not what I meant–"
"– Prefect! Dumbledore must be off his rocker–"
"– I heard you had to fight a troll–"
"– Mum no! Not in front of the girls–"
"– get at least seven OWLS, or I swear you won't live to see–"
"– rius Black, pay attention when I'm talking to–"
"– can't believe summer's over already–"
Wait, what? Aberforth spun around searching for the source of his interest. There, about ten feet away was a family of obvious pure-blood. The Mother was dressed in what looked like black satin robes with dragon-scale gloves, her greying dark hair was done up old-fashionably and held together at the back with a dwarf-bead brooch. She was scolding a young brunette boy who seemed to be causally ignoring her. Next to him were two other shorter boys, both with the same dark hair.
"– and formally apologise to Lucius when you are in the Slytherin common room. Make sure you greet Rosier, and Lestrange, they are both prominent pure-blood families in esteemed Wizarding society. Your cousin; Narcissa will most certainly ensure that your initiation goes smoothly, she is a Prefect after all… Harry, stop fidgeting boy! Also get on good terms with Professor Slughorn, he's your Head of House, he has a great many connections–"
Aberforth stopped listening, instead staring in pure horror at one of the shorter boys, who had turned around, just for a moment. The boy's green eyes had flashed once around the platform as he gazed curiously at other students and the red steam engine of the Hogwarts Express, before he turned his impatient attention back to his Mother, still fidgeting as if anxious to get away. Aberforth wheezed for breath, feeling like he'd just run a mile, his mind shutting down in denial. No... No – it can't be… Not with him… anyone but him…
But the sinking feeling and the welling despair inside him was telling a different story. Yes; Aberforth had finally found Harry Potter, but for it to be like this, to find him only to discover… It was like climbing to the top of a mountain only to realise it was actually an active volcano... no this must be a joke… a horrible, insane joke… fate must be mocking him with this of chaotic irony… that Harry Potter grew up with the man who betrayed his parents, with the Dark Lord's right-hand man, that murderous traitor; Sirius Black. That Harry Potter, saviour of the Light, grew up with one of the most insane and dark families of all time. A cruel joke of black humour…
The twins finally escaped their Mother, leaving her bristling behind on the platform as they pushed their way through the gathering crowd towards the train, Sirius led the way. A group of older students shoved in front of Harry, and he glanced back at his family one last time while he waited for them to pass. Orion hadn't come out to see them off, so it was just Walburga and Regulus. Regulus was standing miserably behind their Mother looking as if he had just got the death sentence. Harry caught his eye and waved in what he hoped was a cheerful way, trying to convey to his brother that they would soon be back for Christmas. Regulus smiled, waving shyly, before Harry's vision of him was cut off by another family.
Harry was about to turn back round to his trunk when a different person caught his eye. There was an old man at the back of the platform, wearing brown travelling robes and cloak, with a knobbly walking stick in one hand – and staring directly and unrelentingly at him. Ice blue eyes seemed freeze Harry in place, piecing right across the misty and smoke covered platform, ignoring the crowds of children and the confusing commotion surrounding them.
The noise all around Harry seemed to fade away, leaving a strange static buzzing in Harry's ears. The old man's eyes burned intensely into his green ones, an unreadable emotion in them other than a sense of great power and focus. Harry was fixed in place by the mere intensity of this old man's expression, he wanted to look away but felt completely absorbed – he was burning – his head felt light – what was this man doing to him?
Harry finally tore his gaze away and gasped for breath, he hadn't realised he'd stopped breathing. Who was that old man? Harry spun around, suddenly frightened, frantically searching for the aged wizard through the unexpectedly swarming station. The old man had vanished.
Feeling sufficiently freaked out and more than slightly disturbed, Harry slowly turned back to his trunk. He warily pushed past the crowds again, eyes flicking from side to side watching out for the strange old man. Why would that man look at me like that? Have I seen him before somewhere? Harry didn't think so… maybe he had accidentally pranked him and the old man was now holding a grudge? No it didn't feel like that… this feels like something more… something bigger… but what? Then he stopped walking as a thought occurred to him.
Where the hell had Sirius gone?
Sirius loaded his trunk onto the train and trundled off down the Express's corridor – looking for a spare compartment. He had gone quite a fair way down the train before he had realised his twin wasn't behind him. Other students clattered around up and down the corridor, some already in their Hogwarts robes, owls screeched in their cages, compartment doors sild open and closed, and children yelled farewells to their parents on the platform.
"HARRY!" Sirius called above the noise, struggling to see over the sea of heads behind him. Cursing, the Black boy turned around, pulling his trunk behind him, shoving his way back down the corridor – much to the chagrin of everyone else going the other way. "Hey Harry! Where are you?"
"OI, watch it!" an older girl protested as Sirius barrelled past.
"– bloody first years,"
"Hey, I'm walking here!"
"Little twerp, come back here–"
"– apologise now, you–"
"Huh, how rude–"
"Oh bugger!" a student, holding a bunch of parchment rolls and ink pots, yelped as everything dropped to the ground. One of the ink pots shattered and splattered black ink all over the corridor floor. But Sirius was not deterred.
He ignored them all, before finally spotting a messy black haired boy inside an otherwise empty compartment. Screeching to a stop, he burst through the sliding door, closing it on the vengeful students.
"Harry!" he huffed, stalking angrily up to the boy – who had just finished stacking his trunk away in the storage area. "What the hell do you think you're–" the boy turned around, "– not – Harry." Sirius finished, at loss. He was staring at boy he would've sworn was his brother, if not for the glasses and obviously hazel eyes blinking back. Also the boy's hair seemed slightly messier and more ruffled then Harry's, his forehead was scar-less, and he had an indefinable air of having been well cared for.
The boy gave a bold grin, eyes lighting up behind his glasses, "No, the name's James. James Potter," he introduced himself.
Sirius was bewildered beyond measure as he continued to scrutinise the boy in front of him, "Whoa, that's so… weird…"
James looked affronted, "I happen to quite like it," he said.
"You like imitating people? But you know you got the eyes wrong," Sirius pointed out helpfully. A moment of silence followed.
"…What? There's no 'I's in 'James Potter'…and how can I imitate myself?" the boy scrunched up his face.
Sirius shook his head as if clearing it, "Err, sorry, you just look like someone I know… I'm Sirius,"
"Really, well I'm confused,"
"No, I mean my name is Sirius, Sirius Black."
"Ohh, right." James ruffled his hair sheepishly, then he grinned again, "Are you a first year? I'm one."
Sirius blinked, and sniffed, then he looked down, "…You're on fire…"
James raised an eyebrow, "Oh… err, thanks."
"Yeah, you've said…"
"Oh for the love of–" Sirius pointed down, and indeed James's side pocket was smoking profusely.
"Huh? Oh crap!" James swatted his robe pockets frantically, "Yowch! Merlin'sbuggeringballs! hot!hot!hot!"
Sirius watched awkwardly – feeling like he should do something – as the other boy flapped and hopped about. Finally James shoved his hand in his pocket and wretched out a bunch of sparkling mini-fireworks, threw them to the floor of the compartment and stamped them out. Once the disaster was averted James heaved a great sigh, looking at the mashed prank-items sorrowfully. Sirius examined them too.
"Hey, aren't those Dr. Filibuster's?" Sirius prodded a broken firework with his foot, "or were, at least."
James glanced up at him surprised, before another grin graced his face, "Yeah, the mini wet-start ones." Sirius nodded thoughtfully and picked up one of the more salvageable fireworks, "You like pranks?" James asked.
"Heh. Do I like pranks," Sirius repeated, as if it were the silliest question he'd ever heard. Then he struck an arrogant pose, twirling the firework through his fingers, "You sir, are looking at one of the Greatest Prank Kings in wizarding history."
James was quick on the up-take. "Well, I'm afraid I can't bow down," he shrugged self-importantly, "Seeing as I am the ultimate God of all Pranks."
Sirius's eyes glittered, "Is that a challenge?"
James glasses gleamed, "Why? Changing your mind are you?"
"Ha! I never back down from a challenge!" Sirius scoffed confidently, "We'll see who the real ultimate God of Pranks is, there's no way you can beat us!"
"Us?" James's brow furrowed once again.
Sirius paused as understanding caught up with him and he remembered why he came in here in the first place. His trunk fell with a thud to the floor. "Harry!"
"No, I'm James remember,"
Sirius was already opening the compartment door, "Just a second, I'll be right back." He dove back into the crowded corridor, which had somehow managed to double in number of students. The Black heir wove through, pushing past kids, avoiding heavy trunks, and dangerously sharp elbows just the right height to poke him in the eye.
"HARRY! HAR-RY! HAargh–" Sirius was knocked to the ground as a trunk swept his feet out from under him; he landed on his face, ironically in the splattered ink from before. Refusing to be discouraged by this, he wiped his cheeks, unknowingly leaving two dark camouflage streaks under both his eyes. Going for a different tactic this time, Sirius began army-crawling through the throng of ankles, stubbornly persisting in his search-mission. He rolled out of the way of thundering trunks and giant boots (in his view anyway) holding his breath as he went past a particularly smelly bunch of feet, and endeavouring to not get tangled in owl cages.
He thought he was doing rather well, until a girl above him hysterically screamed.
"HE'S LOOKING UP MY SKIRT!"
Sirius froze in panic as the group around him went silent. He looked up, about to try to charm his way out, but the words died on his lips in face of the furious students. All of which were girls.
"PERVERT!" they screamed as one, and Sirius gave up the crawling thing in favour of running for his life.
Harry was annoyed.
Ever since that old man had 'surprised' him (definitely not scared him, nope not at all) things had just gone downhill from there. Sirius had toddled off Merlin-knew-where, and both the platform and the train was crammed full of families and students in the mad rush to get a good compartment. It was now that Harry's small stature let him know just how annoying it could be when trying to push through a swarm of older, louder, and most certainly bigger students, who had infuriatingly chosen to stand right in the entrance to the Hogwarts Express.
Yes, that's right; he hadn't even got on the train yet.
He'd tried everything. Shoving; but he'd got pushed back. Shouting; but they'd ignored him. Scowling ferociously and tapping his foot impatiently; this had done nothing. Hexing seemed like a good idea, but he didn't know any. He even considered setting Sapphire on them, but he didn't want her to get away. Of course, Harry could crawl over their feet, but then, only an idiot would do that.
He'd tried going to other the entrances, but they were no different. So he was doing the only thing he could do, waiting for the crowd to go down and then going to find his deserting brother – who had so shamelessly abandoned him – and yell loud and long at said deserting brother. It seemed like a good plan, so Harry leant against the side of the scarlet steam train and closed his eyes, just listening to the sounds around him.
The sounds around him really weren't that interesting.
Except for that distant thunder, maybe it was going to rain soon.
Maybe very soon, judging by how quickly it was approaching.
And there was that odd roaring sound too.
Like a huge crowd of people were all yelling at once.
In fact, very like a huge crowd of people were all yelling at once.
Harry opened his eyes.
The thunder seemed to be coming from inside the Express.
And was it just him, or was the train vibrating?
With growing trepidation he slowly turned his head to look down the length of the train. Other wizarding people were also looking at the mode of transport with expressions of confusion, murmuring to one another anxiously.
The roaring thunder got louder.
Why did he have the uneasy feeling that his brother was involved in this?
The entrance two carriages down from Harry exploded, and three dark shapes shot out in a flurry of robes and owl feathers. Two of these shapes fell heavily to the ground, one of them accidentally letting go of a school trunk, which hit the ground and burst open, its contents spilling everywhere. An owl flew out after the shapes – which happen to be three students – and it squawked frenziedly about looking sufficiently tousled. The third shape hit the ground running, and a mortified Harry identified it as Sirius.
His twin had somehow got himself covered in black ink, with two dark streaks beneath his eyes. There were tuffs of spare feathers down the front of his robes, and the back of him appeared to be dripping in juice. He had lost one of his shoes and his hair seemed to have had glitter dropped on it, so sparkly pieces flew off behind him as Sirius ran. He had this terrified expression on his face as if he were being chased… by a… angry… horde…
An angry horde burst out of the train behind Sirius, unfortunately trampling the hapless shapes that were still on the ground. The enraged teeming mass was led by about a dozen girls screaming and shouting obesities at Sirius, the occasionally curse or hex flying at him. Behind them came other students who seemed to be angry about being half-trampled or cursed by accident from the girls, some of these students looked even worse off then Sirius; some with green hair, or sprouting boils, or completely covered in what looked like toad-glop. Others just seemed to be joining in for the fun of it.
"Hah-ha…" Harry chuckled weakly, "There he is."
"MISCRETANT!" the lead girl screeched at Sirius's back, above all the other shouting, "HELL-BORN HEATHEN! DEGENERANT WRETCH!"
Harry had to admire the girl's creative ability in insults, she'd probably already used up all the easy ones.
"YOU INSANE WITCH!" Sirius screamed back over his shoulder.
"WHAT DID HE SAY?" the lead girl asked another girl who was chasing next to her.
"HE CALLED YOU A VAIN BITCH!"
"IGNOMINY OF HUMAN NATURE!" the lead girl shrieked passionately, sending a stream of purple light from her wand that narrowly missed Sirius's head.
"YOU ARE A NUT!" Sirius yelped, "GET AWAY FROM ME!"
The other girl obligingly translated, "HE SAID YOU ARE A SLUT! YET DISPLAY OBESITY!"
As one, the horde screamed with outrage, increasing its pace on the Black family heir. Observers still on the platform gaped bug-eyed in shock at the scene before them, parents covering their children's ears to protect them. Sirius yelped again as another hex came dangerously close to his heels, he leapt forward frantically.
Meanwhile, Harry suddenly found himself faced with a stampeding horde of rampaging students out for his brother's blood. For half-a-moment he pondered joining the horde, but that idea was soon diminished by Sirius reaching his side and grabbing his arm, pulling Harry along behind him and forcing him to run with him. Effectively putting both of them running away from the horde, when Harry hadn't done anything other then be related to the guy.
"HARRY, THERE YOU ARE! I'VE BEEN LOOKING EVERYWHERE FOR YOU!" Sirius scolded, tempting Harry into seriously considering the angry horde option.
"I'D SAY THAT'S NOT ALL YOU'VE BEEN UP TO!" Harry yelled back, feeling more than a little pissed off.
"YOU'RE RIGHT!" Sirius admitted cheerfully, "COME ON, YOU SHOULD MEET THIS KID, HE'S LIKE YOUR TWIN!"
Harry gave him a strange look while still managing to keep pace, "ERR… SIRI? YOU'RE LIKE MY TWIN!"
Sirius waved his hand dismissively, as if it was a minor detail.
"YOU VILE PEST! YOU DESPICABLE BEAST!" the lead girl screamed from behind them, "YOU PUTRID RAT!"
Sirius made to stop, as if he were about to stand his ground defiantly, "OI! I RESENT THAT STATEM–"
Harry grabbed his twin's shoulder and pulled him along grimly, "NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE RIGETEOUS, SIRI!" he informed his obviously insane twin, or at least, insanely stupid.
"THIS WAY!" Sirius yelled and he darted towards a train entrance, whipping Harry along behind him as he used his barrelling strength and momentum to barge past the students standing in the way. A few chaotic moments later Sirius slammed open a compartment door and then similarly shut it. In a flash – both the twins were crouched below the compartment door window, listening as raving mad students charged past. They held their breath in silence until the thundering roaring had faded away, and the floor beneath their feet stopped shaking.
"Do you think it's safe?" Sirius asked in a hushed whisper.
But Harry never got to answer, because at that moment he turned to see himself burst into uproarious laughter.
"What the – bloody hell – happened to you?" the fake-Harry gasped between laughing. His question was directed at Sirius, who – for some reason – was looking very proud of himself. "You left – for like five minutes, and the entire train – explodes!" Howling with laughter the fake-Harry collapsed on the seat, next to a pile of sorry-looking fireworks. "And – just look at you – Ha!"
Sirius examined his ink-stained fingernails smugly, "I do believe Prank Number One goes to me."
"Of course!" fake-Harry bounced excitedly, his eyes twinkling mischievously, "wow this is going to be great, I can't wait to find something to top that!"
Harry finally regained use of his voice, "THAT WAS A PRANK!" he yelled furiously, standing up to glare at Sirius.
Sirius looked suitably ashamed of himself, "Err… well… it was more like an escalated accident… but yes I guess…"
"It was a prank!" Harry repeated wrathfully. Sirius shrunk back as an impromptu staring match ensued.
Meanwhile fake-Harry finally noticed real Harry and at first gaped at him, before swallowing his shock and an irritated scowled graced his features.
"I thought you said you liked pranks," fake-Harry accused Sirius, talking as if real Harry wasn't there.
Sirius just gulped as Harry's eye twitched.
"I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU PULLED THE FIRST PRANK AT HOGWARTS WITHOUT ME!" Harry yelled, tackling Sirius to the ground and wrestling with him until he came out on top.
Fake-Harry was back to gaping like a fish, before he starting laughing again.
"You – You guys – are a real riot!" he declared, positively radiant about that fact.
"And why would that be?" Harry ground out, using all his strength and anger in keeping Sirius where he was.
"Huh, well I thought for a second you were one of those people. You know, the ones that think pulling pranks is… – wrong –" fake-Harry whispered, as if it were a great secret. All three boys shuddered at the thought.
"As if!" Harry finally sat up, rolling off Sirius and letting him breathe. "If you think he's bad, you should see my pranks, I'm the brains behind the whole sha-bang."
Sirius rubbed his ribs wincingly, "He's also the evil twin, so he's doubly dangerous," he confided to the fake-Harry. Harry hit him again, but Sirius just gestured as if that proved his point.
Fake-Harry looked like he was about to explode, or at least have his face spilt in half from grinning too widely. "Twins? You're twins?"
Harry nodded grumpily, "Yeah, and we're supposed to be a team!" he glared at Sirius.
Sirius shrugged nonplussed, "Well look at it this way, we're not at Hogwarts yet so, technically, it wasn't the first prank at Hogwarts."
Harry cocked his head as he mulled this over, then he smiled happily, "I guess that's true!" he jumped to his feet, holding out his hand to help Sirius up. The three black haired boys all looked at each other for a moment, Harry moving to face fake-Harry and narrowing his eyes at him.
"Alright fake-Harry," Harry started, prodding the other boy with his finger, "what's the big deal with imitating me? Though you know… you got the eyes wrong," he pointed out helpfully. Fake-Harry just beamed at him as if Harry had passed some sort of test.
"The name's James Potter," the boy said holding out his hand confidently.
Harry eyed it, wondering if this was a trick, but then mentally shrugged, "Harry Black," he said taking the hand. A strange feeling rose inside him, like a tingling in the back of his mind – like there was something important that Harry was missing. Harry frowned, oddly reminded of the strange old man from before. This day just kept getting weirder and weirder, first that old wizard, now this strange boy who liked like his twin (not like Sirius, more like an identical twin)… maybe it was a conspiracy… "Nah," Harry murmured to himself, "just a coincidence."
"Yeah it probably is," James agreed next to him, "though it is strange."
Harry blinked, "Huh?"
"How much we look like each other," James clarified.
Sirius, obviously feeling a little left out, jumped in and threw a heavy arm over Harry, mussing up his hair as he did so. "James here, reckons he's the ultimate God of all Pranks." Harry scowled at Sirius, attempting to fix his hair, before his twin's words caught up with him and he looked back at James with interest.
"Really, now," his green eyes twinkled impishly, "that sounds like a challenge to our throne."
"Most definitely," Sirius agreed with him, and they analysed James in such a way that would have any full-grown adult backing away in fear. The Potter boy however, appeared to remain unruffled as they considered whether or not he'd be a worthy opponent.
"In fact," James hopped on top of the compartment seat, standing up as if giving an important announcement to a huge crowd of people, "I propose a game of sorts; to find the real ultimate God of all Pranks, by way of a prank war."
Harry and Sirius glanced at each other, "We're listening," they said, crossing their arms.
"Great!" James said excitedly, sliding down to sit on the seat, "then why don't we work out all the details during the ride?"
Sirius keenly growled, "Sounds purr-fect," and he sprawled out on the seat next to James.
A whistle blew in the back ground as the train got ready to depart.
Sirius blinked in confusion when his twin didn't join him, he turned back around to see Harry still standing there looking at him in total abject horror.
"Um… Harry?" Sirius inquired, raising a brow, "Is everything all right?"
Harry seemed to be momentarily incapable of speech.
James grinned at him, amused at his strange reaction, "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?"
All the colour drained from Harry's face as he spluttered, "C – C – C –"
"Blimey! You've gotta be joking!" Sirius bellowed, finally catching on. James was now looking back and forth between the twins, not understanding anything.
"Seriously guys, what's the problem?" he asked.
"MY CAT!!" Harry howled and rocketed out the room.
"Hurry Harry! It's eleven!" Sirius flew after him. James, not really knowing what was going on – but not wanting to miss out either, pounded after them.
Harry shot down the corridor faster then a flying Snitch, reaching the nearest train exit in record time. Slamming onto the platform he instantly spotted his lonesome trunk next to the train where Harry had been leaning before. Families waved their children off, and they in turn, half-hung out the windows yelling goodbye. Platform 9¾ was significantly emptier now that all the students were safely on the train… well except for Harry that was.
The hiss of pistons filled the station and the Hogwarts Express began to slowly creak forward.
"NO, WAIT! WAIT!" Harry futilely roared in desperation. The hunk of metal ignored him and instead went faster. Finally reaching his trunk he snatched it up in both arms and dashed along next to the rapidly accelerating train. Harry panted, trying to get a grip on his heavy trunk – a train entrance went past him, but by the time Harry noticed it, it was already too far ahead.
"Next one then," he puffed to himself, and made the mistake of looking back for it, thereby taking his eyes off where he was running.
"Oh my!" a woman exclaimed, stepping back hurriedly. Unfortunately for Harry she forgot to take her fairly large bag with her. He smashed into it – tripping in a rather spectacular fashion – yet somehow managing to remain upright, resulting in an odd stumbling hop. The next entrance flashed past faster then the other one.
"Sorry!" Harry called over his shoulder already running again.
Oh well, there's still one more entrance, I'll make it this time, Harry promised himself determinedly. A dull thumping noise reached his ears and he looked up to see a panicky Sirius inside the train corridor, half-running in the opposite direction to Harry so as to keep him in view. His twin was yelling something, but the glass prevented sound from getting out. Close behind Sirius was James, both of them dodging around students still loitering in the corridor. Harry shifted the trunk under one arm, so that he was ready to grab the entrance rail. The train was going much faster now, chugging away out to its destination, a stream of smoke trailing above it. Gasping for air, Harry sprinted, keeping an eye out for the next train entrance – There!
Harry lurched forward and triumphantly grasped the entrance rail, pulling himself up to get on properly. Then disaster struck as Harry felt the trunk slipping out from under his arm, and in his panic to hold onto it, he accidentally let go of the railing. NO! He landed back on the platform, successfully still with the trunk in his grasp, but now with no way to get on the train, the last entrance was drifting further away. This isn't happening! This is – not – happening! Wait, but he still had one chance, one last chance to get on the train. Admittedly it was a long shot, but it was still a chance. With new resolve Harry began running harder then ever, keeping a tight grip on his trunk. But then another problem presented itself; Harry was running out of platform.
The end of the Express was coming up, along with Harry's last chance. The scarlet train was going too fast, the platform was too short, and every bit of common sense was screaming at him that this was a bad idea. Harry firmly told his common sense to shut up.
Suddenly he was out of time, the end of the train and the platform was upon him. Harry tightened his grip on his trunk – and flew.
He launched himself off the end of the platform, diving for the end of the train; hand outstretched, and by some miracle, he managed to close it around the bar. Harry slammed into the back railing, his head dazedly spinning, but his hands still grasped in a white-knuckle grip. His short stature (which was undoubtedly the most wonderful thing in the world) meant that his legs dangled high above the blurring train-tracks beneath him, his trunk waving behind him.
Reality caught up with Harry, and he realised this was most-assuredly – the stupidest – thing he'd ever done. With his common sense singing 'I told you so' he wondered what the hell he was going to do now.
The door to the back of the train burst open, and Harry's saviours breathlessly gasped onto the small stand at the back of the train. Sirius was looking around wildly, appearing pale, and James stood edgily to one side. Sirius now looked a little confused, but that quickly turned to horror as he looked back at the slowly disappearing Platform 9¾. James' face took on an apologetic look and he seemed to be searching for words as well as breathe now.
Harry, beginning to get annoyed at his saviours, decided to speak up.
"A little – help – would be nice round about now," he growled. Sirius and James looked down and their jaws dropped in shock. Yelping in alarm Sirius lurched forward to pull his brother up, James at his side. Finally all three of the boys, and Harry's trunk, were piled on the small stand, on their way to Hogwarts.
"I've known you two for about ten minutes, and I'm under the complete impression that you're both insane," James said as they got back to their compartment.
"That's what everyone says about our family," Sirius remarked tiredly, plopping back down on the seat.
"Oi, it's not over yet," Harry said, beginning to unlatch his trunk.
"Over?" James laughed, "We just got off the station. This day has barely started."
"Hey, you're right," Sirius cheered up, and then looked down at Harry, "whatcha doing?"
"Making sure Sapphire's okay,"
The grin slipped off Sirius's face and he jumped behind James using the other boy as a human shield.
James's short experience with the twins was enough to cause him hesitation. "Who's Sapphire?" he questioned suspiciously, trying to edge away from Harry and the trunk.
"An evil demon fanged fiend, with deadly claws like razor-sharp knives, a creature of darkness – a nightmare monster with huge purple eyes capable of hypnotising and brainwashing – at least when it comes to Harry," Sirius warned ominously.
"Ah," James gulped.
"Nonsense," Harry dismissed, "she's an absolute darling." And then he opened the trunk; literally letting the cat out of the bag.
A miniature black beast erupted from the trunk, knocking Harry over and running riot around the compartment. James and Sirius yelled in fear as the small black blur came hissingly close to their faces.
"Catch her!" Harry implored, trying to do just that.
"Are you crazy?!" Sirius barked, "I'm not going near that thing!"
Harry growled threateningly at him, and leapt after his furious and wayward pet. Sapphire scampered skittishly away right for James's leg, which she had no problem with clambering up in panic and proceeding to latch onto his back. James, however, did seem to have a problem with it.
"WA-HAHHHOUCH! Getitoffgetitoffgetitoff!" James frantically danced around the compartment, trying in vain to reach the small cat. Sapphire had dug her claws in hard to the back of his robes, ears flat against her head and eyes wide in fear.
"Calm down, you'll hurt her!" Harry said anxiously, trying to grab her off James.
Sirius wasn't being any help, instead choosing to laugh at James's bad luck and his own good fortune that it wasn't him.
"Just stand still!" Harry roared, and he finally managed to grab his cat. James did as he was bid, standing perfectly still as Harry coxed Sapphire into retracting her claws from his back. "There, that wasn't so bad, now was it?" Harry said lightly. James glowered at Sapphire, who had calmed down enough to look like an innocent kitten. He went to sit next to a still sniggering Sirius, muttering under his breath. Harry let Sapphire climb onto the windowsill where she promptly curled up, both Sirius and James eyed her guardedly.
"Right," Harry turned to the boys, and paused, "now where were we? Oh yes, the prank war!"
That sent off a loud conversation between the boys as they decided the guidelines (not rules, as Sirius said) and worked out how one would win the title of the ultimate God of Pranks. So lost in their conversation were the boys that they barely noticed a red-headed girl come in and take a seat on the chair opposite them. She seemed rather miserable and sat quietly gazing out the window – obviously wanting to be left alone – so the boys ignored her. Eventually the door opened again and a boy with shoulder-length greasy black hair came in and took at seat next to the girl, he was already in his school robes.
It wasn't until several minutes later that the three boys took any real notice of the newcomers.
"You'd better be in Slytherin," the greasy-haired boy said to the girl.
"Slytherin?" James looked around at the word, "Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"
Sirius lounged back and exchanged a dark grimace with Harry.
"Our whole family have been in Slytherin," he said.
James looked taken aback, "Blimey, and I thought you guys seemed alright!"
Sirius and Harry grinned. "Maybe we'll break the tradition." Harry said, eyes flashing briefly at the thought, "Where are you heading, if you've got the choice?"
James lifted an invisible sword, "'Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart!' Like my dad."
The greasy-haired boy made a small, disparaging noise, and James turned to him. The greasy-haired boy frankly reminded Harry too much of his family, Sirius appeared much in the same mind.
James didn't seem bothered in picking a fight. "Got a problem with that?"
"No," the other boy sneered, "If you'd rather be brawny then brainy –"
"Where're you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?" interjected Sirius. Harry grinned at his twin for sticking up for their new friend. James laughed loudly and clapped Sirius on the back.
The red-head girl sat up, revealing a rather flushed face, and she looked at the three boys in disgust. The grin was quickly wiped from Harry's face.
"Come on, Severus, let's find another compartment."
"Oooooo…" James and Sirius imitated her lofty voice; and James tried to trip the boy as he passed.
Harry jumped up and blocked off the door before the two could leave; James and Sirius looked at him in confusion.
"Let us through," the boy snarled.
"Just wait a second,"
"What?" the girl snapped, putting her hands on her hips and glaring at him. Harry just stared back and she blinked, her attitude suddenly changing, and her mouth making an 'oh' shape.
Harry found himself staring into his own green emerald, almond shaped eyes. The compartment went silent as the two stared at each other, the other three occupants wondering what was going on.
"Err… What's your name?" Harry asked just to break the silence.
"Lily Evans," the girl seemed just as stunned as he was.
A distant memory of someone else staring into his eyes brought itself to the fore-front of Harry's mind.
"Ollivander!" he said, "You must be the 'one other' he was talking about! So, he wasn't hitting on me!" Harry was very relieved about that fact.
"Mr. Ollivander was talking about me?" Lily asked disbelievingly.
"Hm-mm, don't worry, he didn't say anything bad,"
"Oh. Good." she said unsurely.
"Okay, see-ya then Evans. Good luck with the sorting-thingy," he stepped out of their way and bounced back over to his seat.
"Thanks…" she said – it came out almost as a question.
The sliding door closed behind them.
Several moments of silence past.
"…What?" Harry asked Sirius and James, who were still staring at him.
Eventually the boys decided on the not-rules, or in other words, the guidelines:
The Black twins vs. James Potter (the Great)
All houses must be targeted at some point.
All houses must be targeted together at some point.
They can prank each other.
Teachers must be targeted at some point.
Dumbledore is optional.
Others must witness their prank in order to vouch for it.
Or else you need proof – example photos.
The prankster(s) who gains the total number of pranks wins.
Winner is declared at the end of the school year.
Loser has to do something of the winner's choice.
Happy with the outcome, Harry started rolling a cat toy around for Sapphire, careful not to bounce it in the small compartment. Sirius and James began loudly proclaiming past pranks and devious deeds each had done. Harry, soon getting bored with the brag-fest, went to go and get changed into his school robes. They were so caught up in their own egos, he wasn't even sure if they heard him leave.
Going to the nearest bathroom he changed into his first-year school robes, pausing to look at his reflection in the mirror. Green eyes stared back at him. He had never seen someone with eyes like his before, none of the other members in the Black family had eyes like his, and past family member's portraits showed no results either. Lily Evans was a first. Then there was Ollivander. He must have seen loads of other students as the old man owned the only wand shop in Britain. We couldn't be the only ones with green coloured eyes, could we? But then, the creepy old man hadn't said that, he'd said he had 'only seen one other with eyes like yours'. Is Lily related to the Black family in some way? Frankly too many weird things had been happening lately for Harry's liking, first Ollivander, then that old man on the platform with the piercing blue eyes focused only on him, James – his strange identical twin that wasn't his twin – and now that red-hair girl. It was a mystery out of his reach, the answers dancing out of view, and it was infuriating Harry to no foreseeable end.
Heaving a sigh he decided to put it out of his mind. Obviously this day was just going to be one weird event after another, and there was nothing he could do or say to change that. Harry left the bathroom and made his way back to his compartment. Half-way there he paused as a familiar someone came into view. In the corner of a nearly empty compartment – was a boy curled up on a seat, reading a book. The boy looked a little pale and his light brown hair flopped forward onto his face. Harry slid the compartment door open.
The boy looked up, startled from his book, amber eyes widening at the sight of Harry.
"You're the insane cannon-balling boy," he said. Then he blinked and flushed, "err, I said that out loud, didn't I?"
"Yep." Harry said cheerfully, coming to sit opposite the boy, "That's okay, you're the innocent bystander. I'm Harry Black. You a first year too?"
"Yes, I'm Remus Lupin."
"Nice to meet you. Hey, ah, listen; I really am sorry about the other day. Cannon-balling into you and everything," Harry apologised sheepishly.
"It's okay, no harm done, as you said,"
"Great," Harry brightened, "So looking forward to Hogwarts?"
"Which House are you hoping for?"
"Oh any, I'll just be happy to be at Hogwarts," Remus said.
Harry smirked, remembering his family. "Huh, I know how you feel."
"What happened to the other boy with you in Diagon Alley?" Remus asked curiously, before flushing again, "I mean, if you don't mind me asking,"
Harry flapped a hand and lounged back in his seat. "Oh he's a first-year too, he's off bonding with his soul-mate," Harry rolled his eyes, thinking of how Sirius and James had taken to each other.
"My twin; Sirius, can sometimes get a little distracted,"
"You're a twin?"
"Yeah, hey you wanna meet them?" Harry leaned forward grinning.
"Oh, I err – I don't know, I mean I don't think –"
"Come on, I'll introduce you," Harry grabbed Remus' arm and pulled him up; "besides you don't want to stay in here by yourself, do you?"
Harry dragged Remus back to his compartment, throwing open the door and stepping in proudly.
"Look who I found!" he announced, interrupting the boy's rowdy conversation and pulling a blushing Remus into view.
"Um, hello," Remus gave a little wave.
Sirius and James looked at him interestedly.
"He's the boy from the incident," Harry clarified, "the 'Flourish and Blotts's one that is."
"I'm Remus Lupin, you must be Sirius," he said, smiling at James.
James blinked, and then fell back roaring with laughter. Sirius gave his canine grin, his eyes beginning to glitter.
"You know, we could have a lot fun at Hogwarts with this,"
"Mmm, just imagine the possibilities," Harry mimicked his grin.
"… I'm sorry… I don't…" Remus looked lost.
Harry turned back to the shy boy, "Sirius, my twin," he introduced pointing to the other Black boy, and then at Potter, "This is just James, he's a weird freak of nature."
"Anyway, Remus was bored by himself so he's joining us, right?"
Remus blushed again at having all eyes on him, "Oh, well I wouldn't say bored as such–"
"Great! You can sit with me," Harry yanked him down onto the seat.
"Oh and this is my cat, Sapphire. Isn't she a darling?" Harry dreamily patted the black kitten, Sapphire opened her eyes.
"She-devil," Sirius muttered darkly, feeling past scratches obtained by the 'darling'.
"What's the matter?" Harry turned to Remus at his tone.
"What? Oh, nothing! It's just… cats usually don't like me much…"
"That's okay," Sirius said, "I don't like cats either, fuzzy-little-gremlins-in-disguise, the lot of them."
Harry squinted at Remus, "Oh no, you're not another dog-person, are you?"
Remus seemed flustered, "Err… I guess… something like that,"
Harry glowered at the three boys, feeling out-numbered as they all eyed Sapphire. The black kitten began purring deeply under Harry's hand.
"Sheesh, why does everyone hate cats?"
"We don't need a reason. They're evil, end of story," Sirius said.
"No, not end of story! Sapphire is a precious gem, an angel in the form of a feline–"
"Beast," Sirius cut in matter-of-factly, "and of course you'd say that, you're brainwashed,"
Harry groaned with frustration, "For the last time I am not brainwashed!"
"You are! That cat is nothing but trouble, you'll see!"
A great clattering sounded from the corridor interrupting the boys' growing feud. A smiling, dimpled young woman slid back their door.
"Anything off the trolley, dears?"
Feud forgotten, three boys leapt to their feet, all scrounging for coins in their robe pockets. After a month of only eating Kreacher's grey mush – Harry could feel his mouth watering at the mere thought of proper food. James grinned and winked at the woman as he paid for his Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans and Drooble's Best Blowing Gum. Sirius and Harry brought piles of Pumpkin Pasties, a couple of Cauldron Cakes, lots of Liquorice Wands, and a few Chocolate Frogs, nearly cleaning the trolley out. Harry was about to start digging in when Remus – who was hunched over by the window and pretending to be very interested in the view – caught his eye. For the first time Harry realised that the boy's robes were a lot more frayed then his, like they were second hand or something.
Then the smell of a Pumpkin Pasty became too much for his grumbling stomach, and he hastily took a large bite out of it. The compartment went quieter with both he and Sirius eating like they were half-staved (which, funnily enough, they were), and James pulling various faces as he chomped through the Every Flavour Beans. So quick – he might have imagined it – Harry saw Remus' amber eye flicker towards the chocolate frogs on the seat, before going back to the window.
"Wan' won?" Harry asked him through a mouthful of food. Remus turned to him surprised, and Harry could already see the boy's mouth forming protests. He swallowed. "Seriously, here take one," without giving Remus a chance to object, he threw a Chocolate Frog into his lap.
"I – ah – t-thanks," Remus stammered. Harry just grinned at him, moving on to a Liquorice Wand.
Night had began to fall out-side the compartment windows by the time Sirius and James got changed into their school robes. As they were nearing the school, the twins began to suppress their boisterous behaviour, both anxious and unsure about the sorting. Remus went back to reading his book and Sapphire tired of playing with the cat toys, so now Harry had nothing to distract him. With James so confident that he'd be a Gryffindor, it seemed that other than Harry, only Sirius was worried. Harry peered out the window. He could see mountains and forests under a deep purple sky; the train seemed to be slowing down.
A voice echoed through the compartment, 'We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes time, Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately.' Harry's stomach lurched with nerves and Sirius, he saw, looked paler then normal. They crammed their pockets with the last of the sweets, Harry making sure Sapphire was safe in her cat carrier, pocketing her cat toys and making sure he had his wand. Then the four boys joined the thronging crowd in the corridor. The train slowed right down and finally stopped, people pushed their way out the exits and onto a tiny, dark platform. Harry shivered in the cold night air, wrapping his arms around him to hold in the warmth of the compartment.
"Firs' years! Firs' years over here!"
A giant of a man was standing on the platform, his huge smile nearly covered by his shaggy mane of hair and wild tangled beard.
"Any more firs' years? C'mon, follow me! Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!"
They trailed behind the massive man down a steep, narrow path, the trees so thick on each side that it was hard to see.
"Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," the man called over his shoulder, "jus' round this bend here." Harry gasped along with the other first years; the narrow path had suddenly opened onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers. Harry turned to grin at Sirius; they had speculated about Hogwarts, but the real thing blew all their theories out of the air. The giant man ordered four students to a boat – which were sitting in the water by the shore. James, Remus and the twins all clamoured into one. Remus seemed transfixed by the sight of Hogwarts and he sat by the stern as if he never wanted to move again.
James was the opposite.
As the boats moved off across the smooth glass-like lake he shifted from one side to the other, his eyes shining excitedly. The rocking motion was making Harry even more uncomfortable, not doing a thing to calm his still jumping stomach. He had never been over an expanse of water like this, and didn't think he knew how to swim, but he was certain he didn't want to find out tonight. He slid away from the thrilled brunette, huddling closer to Sirius.
"My dad said there's a giant squid somewhere down there!" James leant over the side of the boat peering eagerly into the dark water, "Do you reckon if we splash a bit, it'll come up?" the boat rocked sideways as he moved. James leant out further, striving to touch the water, and the boat swayed with the motion. To Harry's alarm; he felt himself slipping down the wooden bench towards the dark depths.
A strong hand grabbed his arm, holding him in place.
"Will you cut that out?!" Sirius barked, gripping Harry's arm tightly.
James twisted around, surprised at his tone. "Fine," he frowned, and sat down properly. They sailed for a few moments in tense silence.
"Hey, Siri?" Harry asked, as casually as possible, "mind letting go of my arm? You're kind of cutting off my circulation."
"Oh, whoops," Sirius gave his canine grin and released it.
"That's okay. I know you hate taking baths."
"Hey, we're here," Remus interrupted softly.
A few minutes later they walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door. The giant man raised a massive fist and knocked three times on the castle door.
The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes stood there. She had a very stern face and looked like someone who would be fun to stir up.
"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall," said the giant man.
"Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here." She pulled the door wide. The entrance hall was so big it made the Black entrance hall seem miniscule in comparison. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches, the ceiling was too high to make out, and there was a magnificent marble staircase nearby leading to the upper floors. They followed Professor McGonagall across the flagged stone floor. Harry could hear the drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right. The first years crowded around; standing rather closer together than they would usually have done and peering about nervously. "Welcome to Hogwarts," Professor McGonagall said, "the start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts…" Not if I have anything to do with it, Harry thought darkly, determinedly setting his jaw. No way in hell… "… While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule-breaking will lose house points…" Sirius nudged Harry from behind, and they exchanged grins. "… I shall return when we are ready for you," finished Professor McGonagall, "please wait quietly." She left the chamber.
"How do you reckon they sort us?" James wondered loudly.
"Shh," a prissy looking girl shushed him.
"What?" James asked, morphing his face into one of confusion and not lowering his voice one bit.
"She said to wait quietly," the girl hissed anxiously, her blonde plaited hair swung around as she twisted her body.
"You know, I heard that the sorting was a kind of test," James continued, still not lowering his voice, "they use this thing that deems whether or not you're worthy enough of entering Hogwarts." He had all the first years' attention now and most of them were looking at him in horror, as if he'd confirmed their worst fears. "It works by sucking at your brain, but don't worry, it doesn't hurt too much. But it has been known to send people insane, and one time it accidentally sucked off this girl's hair…" the blonde girl squeaked in fear, grabbing her long plait as if afraid it would fall off. "But then again, that's just a rumour. I'm sure it's not really true," James winked reassuringly. The other first years simultaneously gulped, except for Harry and Sirius who knew a prank when they saw one.
Not to be outdone they started, "I heard, that if the thing deems you not worthy–"
"– enough of Hogwarts, it'll eat you."
The boys traded sly grins as the crowd of first years paled.
"The Sorting Ceremony's about to start," said a sharp voice. Professor McGonagall had returned. "Now form a line, and follow me."
The light teasing of their classmates really hadn't done anything to calm Harry's nerves and he felt jittery as he fell in behind James; with Sirius behind him, and they walked through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles which were floating in mid-air over four long tables – were the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another table where the teachers were sitting. Professor McGonagall led the first years up here, so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them. The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, ghosts shone misty silver. Harry looked upwards and saw a velvety black enchanted ceiling scattered with stars.
Harry quickly looked down again as Professor McGonagall silently placed a four-legged stool in front of the first years. Then on top of that she put a patched, frayed and pointed wizard's hat. Harry regarded the hat cautiously, fearful murmurs spread through the first years, and suddenly Harry wasn't so sure about the teasing words from before.
The hat twitched.
The first years instinctively took a step back.
A rip near the brim opened wide like a mouth – and the hat began to sing:
Oh, I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find,
A smarter hat then me.
(The first years blanched at the word; eat)
The four founders' sought to sort you,
So just whip me on your head,
They filled me up with lots of brains,
So I could choose instead!
(Total horror filled their faces)
There's nothing hidden in your head,
No knowledge I can't see,
So put me on, and I'll suck out,
The perfect place for thee.
(Someone started whimpering)
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry,
Might be right for you to start.
Or maybe in fair Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and true,
Patient, loyal, Hufflepuff,
Might be the place for you.
Or perhaps wise old Ravenclaw,
Where wait those of wit and learning,
If you obtain a ready mind,
This house will fill your yearning.
Or you might belong in Slytherin,
Where your ambitions can arise,
With those cunning folk of power,
May be where your future lies.
So slip me snug about your ears,
And my purpose I'll pursue,
I'll have a look inside your mind,
Find the House worthy of you.
The whole hall burst into applause as the hat finished its song.
Well, everyone except for the first years – who had huddled together and as a group looked more terrified then ever.
Professor McGonagall frowned lightly and stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment.
"When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool," she said. The first years were so pale now that they rather resembled the ghosts. They took another step backwards away from the hat, some looking at the Professor like she was completely mad. Amused, but confused murmurs from the other Hogwarts students filled the Hall; Professor McGonagall cleared her throat loudly to quieten them.
"Anton, Abigail!" she called.
One of the first years squeaked, but no one stepped forward.
Professor McGonagall's frown grew more pronounced, "Come now, Anton, Abigail!"
Still no one answered. But then the prissy girl from before with the blonde plait stepped forward, looking absolutely petrified, grasping her long hair tightly by her shoulder – her hand was shaking. Students started whispering to one another at the tables, it sounded to Harry as if they were betting on what House she would be in.
"Definitely a Hufflepuff," someone whispered.
"Yeah, a 'Puff for sure – look how she's shaking,"
The blonde-haired girl edged forward towards the stool. With all eyes upon her, her fingers wavered above the frayed tip of the Sorting Hat. The first years waited with bated breath…
Abigail squeaked and fainted.
It took several moments of shock before the Great Hall burst into laughter, the teachers looking just as bemused as half the students. Professor McGonagall pursed her lips thinly and raised her eyebrows, she turned to look at the Headmaster; Albus Dumbledore. Harry recognised him from previous Chocolate Frog cards he'd had. Professor Dumbledore stroked his sliver beard thoughtfully, a small smile played on his lips and his eyes twinkled, he signalled something to the Deputy Headmistress, and she nodded.
"Now really," Professor McGonagall turned back; sounding annoyed. She put her hands on her hips, surveying the first years, "there is nothing to be afraid of."
"Nothing to be afraid of!" a sandy-haired boy started incredulously, "You heard it, it's going to suck out our brains!" Other first years joined in fearfully.
"Yeah, or eat us!"
"Or drive us mental!"
"I'm not touching that thing!"
"I wish I'd stayed home –"
"Isn't there another way to be sorted?"
"There is nothing to be afraid of!" McGonagall bristled, "and the hat is not going to 'suck out your brains', or anything else along those lines!"
"Then why don't you put it on?" someone muttered mutinously. Students started sniggering at the front of the tables, which quickly grew once more to laughter throughout the hall.
"I don't need to be sorted!" Professor McGonagall all but shouted, "This is utterly ridiculous! Never in my life…" she growled, then pointed her wand and muttered something under her breath. The blonde first year girl sat up blearily. "Anton, go to the back of the line," McGonagall frigidly ordered, and she unrolled the parchment again, "right, now no more of this silly nonsense, QUIET!" she yelled, silencing the still sniggering students. "Right, Black, Harry!"
Taking a deep breath, Harry stepped forward looking more confident then he felt. He heard Sirius murmur something encouraging, but it was too low to catch the words. The older students started whispering again, their bets shifting past Harry's ears.
"Slytherin for sure, that one,"
"Oh I don't know…"
"Don't be silly, all Blacks are in Slytherin,"
"Yeah they're one of the darkest pure-blood families of all time,"
Harry tried to ignore them, instead concentrating on keeping a cool outlook. Professor McGonagall picked up the hat, appearing as if she would ram it down around his ears if she had to. He quickly sat on the stool and the hat dropped over his eyes. He waited for it to begin sucking his brains out.
"Suck your brains out?" a small voice chuckled in Harry's ear, "oh that's a good one, sorry did I give that impression? Oh well, now lets see, a Black eh? Oh but what's this? Hmm... This is different, really quite odd… difficult, very difficult… plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind, quite intelligent, you'll do well in your classes I believe, and there's talent… and – my goodness, a nice thirst to prove yourself… loyal those close to you… a true heart… an enigma really… but where to put you?"
Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, not Slytherin, anywhere but Slytherin. I'd even rather be devoured by a crummy-old-hat then be put in Slytherin.
"Who are you calling a crummy-old-hat?! Humph, youth these days…"
Sorry, sorry, Harry quickly tried to amend, I forgot you suck at my thoughts with your tattered – I mean aged – no shabby…err shabbiness – no shabbishness…es… I'll just stop thinking now… if that's possible Mr. Shabby hat sir. Please don't suck out my brains.
"Oh for the love of…" the hat seemed to sigh, "So not Slytherin, eh? Are you sure? You will be great you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that… the other Blacks have all been in that house, it's tradition – no? Well, if you're sure – better be GRYFFINDOR!" it shouted the last word to the whole hall. Harry took off the hat.
Stunned silence met him.
Harry carefully placed the hat back on the stool – the meeting of the materiel and wood sounded abnormally loud. The teachers had frozen were they sat, blatantly staring at Harry with wide eyes and open mouths. Even Professor McGonagall looked completely thrown for words. Harry glanced around the motionless hall, and his eyes met those of the Headmaster. Albus Dumbledore had leaned forward in his gold chair, peering intently at the Black boy over half-moon glasses with still twinkling blue eyes.
Very familiar blue eyes.
Holy Mother of Merlin, Harry thought, feeling like his head was going to explode, you've got to be kidding me.
A solitary clapping snapped Harry back to reality; the Headmaster was applauding.
"GO HARRY! HAHA! I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT!" Sirius burst from behind him, cheering wildly; he bounced forward and caught Harry up in an enormous bone-crushing hug. This woke up the entire hall, sending them into simple chaos.
The Gryffindors roared with approval, jumping up from their benches and jeering at the Slytherins as if they had won a prize from them. The Slytherins hissed their displeasure, snarling insults at Harry and his twin. Harry spotted Narcissa's face in the sneering mass, her nose twisted as if she smelt something bad, and her eyes shot daggers at him, promising that he would pay.
At the Hufflepuff table however –
"IT'S THOSE TWO BOYS FROM THE TRAIN!" a girl shrieked, pointing a hysterical finger at them. This prompted even more commotion as other people recognised them and screamed rancorous inputs of their own. The first years behind them celebrated in relief that Harry was still whole and sane, James laughing happily and cheerfully clapping Remus on the back.
Sirius held up Harry's hand triumphantly, as if they had just won the Quidditch World Cup. Obligingly the twins took a bow, rapidly escalating the situation by infuriating half the hall and entertaining the other.
"ENOUGH!" Professor McGonagall screeched, some of her dark hair coming loose from her bun, "STOP THIS HULLABALOO THIS INSTANT!" People returned to their seats looking thoroughly scolded and some form of norm returned to the Great Hall. "Mr. Black," McGonagall turned to Harry with gritted teeth, "take – your – seat." He hurriedly did as he was bid; sitting next to a grinning boy with brown freckles all over his face. The Professor shook the parchment out and opened her mouth to read the next name – then blanched, her eyes flicking up towards Sirius who was insanely grinning back. "Black, Sirius." She continued down the roll, "And no one dare say another word!"
But some people couldn't help themselves.
"Twins or cousins, do you reckon?"
"Twins," Harry whispered, barely moving his mouth. A ripple of anticipation travelled down the Gryffindor table as students passed this information on. Harry watched with a twisting gut as Sirius gallantly swept the Sorting Hat onto his head. This was the moment that had been plaguing Harry for a while, now that he was sorted into Gryffindor, what would happen if his twin didn't join him? They would be separated…
Harry gazed at Sirius anxiously, unconsciously crossing his fingers under the table.
"Come on Siri…" he muttered, "come on…"
His twin appeared to be arguing with the hat. The twisting sensation got worse, Harry felt like he couldn't breathe. Then the mouth of the hat opened.
Harry cheered wildly with the other Gryffindors. Now that the hall had gotten over the shock of him, they were slightly more subdued.
"YES!" Sirius shouted jubilantly, taking off the Sorting Hat and throwing it up like he was at graduation, McGonagall squawked in indignation.
Sirius was greeted warmly by the other Gryffindors, some of them still throwing gloating comments at the Slytherins, who were hissing betrayed words at the twins. Harry leapt up elatedly to meet his brother.
"We did it!" Harry cried through another life-squeezing hug, "We did it!"
The Sorting calmed down after that, the red-head girl Lily Evans was also sorted into Gryffindor. Harry shifted to make space for her, beaming broadly, her eyes met his and a tentative smile graced her features – turning to a glare when she saw Sirius. The roll call continued.
"Greengrass, Alice!" A friendly looking girl with short light hair joined the new Gryffindors.
"Goldstein, William," went to Hufflepuff, as did Davey Gudgeon and Collin Hopkins.
"Higgs, Samantha," joined the Ravenclaws.
Harry perked up, watching as the hat touched the pale boy's head. It seemed to debate for some time before it yelled out Gryffindor. Exultantly, Harry congratulated his friend.
"Lestrange, Rabastan," went to Slytherin as did Gawain Montague,
"Malcolm, Caradoc," to Ravenclaw.
"Mulciber, Lockland," went to Slytherin as did Theodora Nott.
"Padma, Paul!" went to Ravenclaw.
"Parkinson, Lucinda," to Slytherin.
"Pettigrew, Peter," was next and the small chubby boy joined them at the Gryffindor table.
"Potter, James," was called. A gasp of horror filled the Great Hall as James stepped forward, and almost as one, all heads swung round to look at Harry and then back to James. James sat down on the stool confidently; the hat barely touched his head before declaring Gryffindor. Evan Rosier and the greasy-haired boy from the train, Severus Snape, went to the Slytherin table where Lucius Malfoy, a prefect badge gleaming on his robes, patted him on the back. Finally the sorting ended with Amycus Zabini being sorted into Ravenclaw and Abigail Anton into Hufflepuff.
Now that the nerves and elation were fading Harry could appreciate just how hungry he was, he looked down at the empty golden plate – the Pumpkin Pasties seemed an age ago. The noise in the Great Hall dropped suddenly and Harry looked up to see Albus Dumbledore get to his feet, the Headmaster spread his arms wide, beaming at the captivated students.
"Welcome! Welcome, both old and new, to another year at Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry! I'm sure you're all hungry; so dig in before you get thin!" Everyone clapped and cheered the Professor as he sat back down, his piercing blue eyes twinkling over his glasses. Harry watched him for a moment more, trying to make sense of something completely illogical. It couldn't have been Albus Dumbledore on the platform, why would it be? Besides the old man on the platform looked different, didn't he? Harry wasn't sure, but the eyes – there's no mistaking the eyes… maybe the man was the Headmaster in disguise… Harry shook his head and turned away from the teachers table, no, it's probably just a weird coincidence… like all the other weird coincidences that happened today… It's ridiculous anyway, why would Albus Dumbledore look me like that? Then again, why would anyone look at me like that?
"Oi, 'Arry, you go'na eat, or wha'?" Sirius asked through his roast beef. Harry glanced up, his jaw dropped at the sight of so many mouth-watering delicious foods. All other thoughts wafted dreamily out of his head, filling up instead with the tantalising smell of the Hogwarts banquet. Not wasting another second, Harry ploughed heartily in.
Several minutes past before people began slowing down and conversation flowed.
"So, what? Are you guys like long lost triplets, or something?" the brown freckled boy next to Harry asked, "I'm Felix Summers, by the way, a third year,"
Harry frowned, "You mean James Potter?" James; who had been talking to Sirius, looked around at his name, "We just met on the–"
"You just met you say?" a thin girl leered at them from the other side of the Gryffindor table. Harry exchanged a look with Sirius and then raised an eyebrow at her.
"Ooh how creepy, you run into this guy who looks just like you," she gushed, waving her spoon around eccentrically, "That has to be impossible, unless of course he's like; your secret half brother – Oh my gosh!" She stared at the three boys' as if she'd just had a brainwave. The brunettes looked back apprehensively. "This is just like a soap opera!" she gasped.
Summers, on seeing the boys' confused faces, interjected, "You'll have to excuse Jorkins; she's not so bad when you get to know her. But she is a bit of a gossip, and I heard she got hooked on muggle television in the holidays."
"Ah," they said, not understanding at all.
"Oh, a Black and a Potter, a light and dark family. And both of them married too, oh, how awful for you! An indecent affair between two pure-blood families, both held in such high esteemed society. A fall from grace, it's positively scandalous!"
"Jorkins, will you shut up!" A boy with messy maroon hair scowled.
"What, Turpin!" Jorkins turned to him angrily.
"Stop scarring the first years with your incessant gossiping!"
"My incessant gossiping?!"
"Yes! In fact, why don't you stop talking altogether?"
"You Turpin are the rudest, most boorish uncouth I have ever met–"
"And you don't know when to shut your mouth!"
"I wasn't even talking to you! Maybe you should learn to butt out of other people's conversations!"
"That's rich coming from you!"
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
Turpin jabbed his fork in the twins and James' direction, "They don't need to hear about his Dad doing his Mum, or vice versa!"
Three sets of cutlery cluttered to the table, Harry and Sirius's jaws dropping wide open, James going a little green around the edges.
"Oh – nice – Turpin," Bertha Jorkins rolled her eyes, "just scream it to the world, why don't you."
What was left of the banquet disappeared and desert materialized in front of them. Harry, no longer feeling hungry after – that – image, let his gaze drift around the Great Hall taking in more detail. On either side of the longer walls were large extravagant fireplaces roaring generous warmth around. Above each of the tables were the corresponding House banners, with each House's animal imprinted on it. Harry watched the gold lion pace over the red back-ground, bearing its teeth fiercely as its tail whipped back and forth.
He let another victorious smile spread across his face, and wondered how long it would take his Mother to find out. Harry looked over his shoulder turning to see the rest of the Great Hall. Behind the Gryffindor table was the Hufflepuff table, friendly looking children talked and chatted admirably. There were two boys playing a game of Gobstones between the trifle and the jam doughnuts. Next to them was a beaming beefy looking kid holding a large toad in his lap while he shovelled ice-cream into his mouth, the occasionally drop being gobbled up by the toad. Harry craned his neck to get a better look, realising he recognised it to be a South African Toad. His Great Aunt Cassiopeia Black had once owned one, they were ugly, squat, with orange swelled eyes that seemed to look in opposite directions, their throat flaps inflated as it breathed, and inside their wide mouth lolled a large purple tongue.
Shuddering Harry turned his attention to the Ravenclaw table behind the Hufflepuffs. He raised his eyebrows in disbelief, they had huddled into groups around books splayed over the table, already reading and studying, excitedly exchanging theories they'd come up with over the holidays. One guy had even balanced a huge plate of wobbling green jelly on one his books so he could eat and read at the same time. Shaking his head and feeling relieved that he wasn't in that House, Harry peered across the hall to the last table on the opposite side of the room. The Slytherin housemates were the most refined out of the four houses, quieter then the rest and eating with more dignity and formality.
"… Mahogany, 11 inches, pliable," James was saying to Sirius as Harry turned his attention back to his own table, James brazenly twirled his wand as he bragged, "and excellent for transfiguration. It took Mr. Ollivander nearly twenty minutes to find it."
Sirius scoffed, "That's nothing! Harry's wand took nearly forty-five minutes." The other Gryffindor first years turned to Harry in amazement.
"No way, you're just pulling our legs,"
"Nope, holly and phoenix feather, 11 inches," Harry went to take his wand out of his pocket, but as he did something else fell out with it, his instincts reacted and he caught it on reflex. Phew, that could have been ugly, Harry thought thankfully, swapping it to his other hand. He put his wand on the table for everyone to see, and the other first years began examining and exclaiming over it.
Harry looked down at the thing in his hand, rolling it from one side of his palm to the other, and a wicked smile slowly formed across his face. His eyes flicked up to meet those of his brother. Sirius saw the familiar grin and cocked his head enquiringly, Harry held up Sapphire's Bouncy Boomerang Ball in answer, twiddling it between two fingers. Sirius bared his teeth in a wild grin, then closed his eyes and stretched, folding his hands behind his head.
"Hey Potter," Sirius said, not moving. James glanced up, eyes narrowing at Sirius's sudden change in demeanour.
Sirius's blue-grey eyes snapped open and his grin stretched even wider.
"You're gonna lose."
James's brow creased quizzically – and then cleared in realisation, eyes widening behind his glasses. Sirius inclined his head slightly in Harry's direction, and James spun around, looking like a deer trapped in a bright light. Harry spun the ball up once, easily catching it in one hand and winking at James – then he tossed the cat toy hard over his shoulder.
Now it should be mentioned here in Harry's defence, that he didn't actually intend things to go the way they did. When he threw the ball; he figured it would bounce hectically around the room, rebounding off the walls and candles, causing mayhem across the four houses as people suddenly became well acquainted with their sticky deserts, hitting students – such as Malfoy – in the head, and generally annoying the hell out of the teachers while everyone else got a good laugh – you know the usual ordinary-prank-during-a-feast-thing. However, Harry forgot one very important fact, something which everyone else has probably all realised by now.
The word 'Ordinary' squeals and flees to Finnland at the mere mention of the Black twins.
Meanwhile words like 'Extreme Havoc' and, 'Sanity Hazard' dance the cha-cha wherever the twins go.
So the Bouncy Boomerang Ball got no further then the Hufflepuff table before randomonium stepped in.
The little ball spun in a blur of colours, twisting as it spilt the air, going unseen by the majority of the school population. Only one swelled orange eye followed its careering progress. The South African Toad saw the Boomerang Bouncy Ball and naturally assumed that it was something tasty – so its great purple tongue snapped out like a striking snake and wrapped around the bright cat toy. Its bizarre eyes bludged at the unpleasant taste, and it was thrown off-guard… though soon it had higher problems to think about. The Bouncy Ball continued to fly through the air, now with a huge toad tongue attached to it like a lead – and the tongue's owner flying splayed-legged behind it.
"Mr. Spongy!" The Hufflepuff boy, who had been holding him, gaped in astonishment as his pet took off.
The Bouncy Ball hit the Ravenclaw table and rebounded off a spoon, flinging it out of a trifle and into the air. A moment later, Mr. Spongy hit the Ravenclaw table, combusting the trifle, before being tugged airborne again. The ball rocketed into a plate of mint humbugs on the Slytherin table, catapulting some of them into the large fireplace behind the table. An instant later the toad crashed into a pitcher of pumpkin juice, sending it, and the rest of the humbugs aloft. Slytherins dove out the way, and the plate and pitcher smashed into the fireplace.
With an enormous roaring the fireplace erupted, flames shooting to the enchanted ceiling and the Slytherin banner – which hung there – instantly caught fire. The imprinted snake squealed, slithering desperately around the burning green frame. The ropes holding it up snapped and the banner flapped down onto the table, the snake wailing in fright. A fourth year Slytherin leapt up, pulling her wand out and thrusting it at the burning house banner.
"Aguamenti!" she screamed, and a stream of water came out… no, a river of water… a rapid river, that is… no wait, a raging torrent of water… make that half of Niagara Falls…
"For Merlin's sake, someone stop her!" A Ravenclaw boy hollered as the flash flood of water consumed the tables. Obviously, Merlin was having a bath or something that evening, as the water just kept on coming; the Slytherin girl stood frozen, staring at her wand in a mortified stupor as it ruthlessly gushed.
Frantic students climbed on top of the tables, struggling over one another, girls shrieked shrilly (and some boys too), and deserts were scattered in the desperate clamour. The teachers called for order, but soon abandoned that to stand on their own tables, holding their robes aloft from the rapidly increasing water. The Slytherin and Ravenclaw tables began to float upwards, much to their housemates' alarm, before overturning completely and drifting around upside-down. Harry was crouched on the Gryffindor along with everybody else, but his attention was elsewhere. His eyes were following the descent of the Boomerang Bouncy Ball which was living up to its name and returning… unfortunately it still had the minor problem of Mr. Spongy being attached to it. Making a split decision at the last second, Harry ducked, and the Ball splashed into the water, finally bobbing to a stop. The South African Toad belly-flopped in behind it, sending the water spurting in an explosive style, and drenching half the Hufflepuffs. Someone wrestled the wand out of the Slytherin girl's hand, and the water gurgled to a halt. The murmurs of several hundred shocked students and teachers flowed back and forth, as they gazed around at the flooded Great Hall. Chairs floated around in the dessert-tinted water, Gobstones drifted arbitrarily, and ruined books swam dismally about.
The newest Gryffindors were standing around Harry, all of them speechless. Then Sirius gave a low whistle and smirked at Harry, opening his mouth to comment. The words died on his lips though at the petrified look on Harry's face.
"Harry?" Sirius nudged him.
Harry made a half-strangled noise. He drew a shaky breath, and tried again, his eyes fixed on the water. "Siri," he said hoarsely, "Remember Aunt Cassiopeia – how she had that toad?"
"Yeah…?" Sirius prompted.
"Remember when I – I spilt that glass of water on it?"
"Oh–" he choked.
Harry nodded grimly, "Yeah. Oh."
Across the water on the Hufflepuff table, the large boy who owned the toad was feverishly gibbering something to his fellow housemates, and they were now all looking on the edge of panic. And for good reason too. The South African Toad wasn't called 'Mr. Spongy' for nothing.
A green bubble rose to the surface where the toad and the ball had disappeared, it burst with a loud wet 'plop' sound, silencing the murmurs of the students and teachers. Several more quickly followed it, and the water took on a smoky-green tinge, clouding the water around the toad. The water was bubbling – no – boiling. Thick steam was rising quickly as the water rapidly became wilder, thrashing about as the smoky-green grew brighter, until it was glowing in a sickly fluorescent colour. The water was thrashing so much now that the long house tables were being pushed back by the current, a horrible stench filled the air like rotten eggs, and still the water raged. Although now it was also starting to swirl around, as if someone had pulled the plug out.
Moving as if in a trance, Harry and Sirius half-heartedly grabbed James, Remus, and Lily's arms, pulling them back from the edge – though this almost certainly wouldn't make a difference. Everyone's eyes were fixed on the boiling cosmos before them, waiting to see what would emerge. And then it did.
Two grotesquely swelled orange eyes rose up out of the water – each easily twice the size of Harry's head, and growing. Someone starting screaming as more of the great toad was revealed, water dripping off its slimy, lumpy body. It wasn't just getting bigger; the water was going down, being sucked inside its wide gaping mouth as well as through its skin. Harry was half-aware that some of the teachers were casting spells, trying to vanquish the water before Mr. Spongy sucked it up. Some were trying to hex the toad, but the spells just rebounded off the leathery skin.
The table suddenly quaked beneath the student's feet, causing them to cry in alarm and fall backwards on top of one another. Harry unfortunately landed under Sirius, with Remus across his feet, Lily's hair in his mouth, and several unnamed knees and elbows poking him in the back and sides. But the worst part was the squashed treacle tart next to his face – simply tragic. The table shuddered again, and then completely lifted up on one side, causing everybody on it to slide down. Lily screamed in Harry's ear, temporarily deafening him, but he had enough sense of mind to grab onto the edge of the table. Everyone else tumbled into the now waist-high, desert tinted water, except for Harry who – for the second time that day – was hanging above an undesirable end.
He swung his other hand up and grabbed the top of the table, hauling himself up so to look over. The same thing had happened to the Hufflepuff table; Harry could only see the underbelly of it. But he was more concerned with a rather more bloated belly in front of him. Mr. Spongy now towered above him, rising to the roof of the Great Hall; the water swirled around the giant amphibian's legs as it continued to drink.
"Harry! Harry!" Someone was yelling from down below. Harry turned his head to see Sirius frantically splashing around in the water searching for him.
"Siri!" Harry called, he stretched out his leg to tap his brother on the shoulder with his shoe, and Sirius spun around, "up here yo–"
Harry was cut off as the table rocked backwards, tipping upside-down. Gryffindors screamed and scrambled out of the way, narrowly avoiding a huge head-ache. Harry clamoured up the side of the table, nimble hands grabbing a table leg and hoisting himself onto the underside of the table, barely managing to slide his legs up before the table splashed down. The house table floated, overturned, its many legs pointing towards the Enchanted Ceiling. Students crawled onto the table and out of the water; a very wet Sirius flopped next to Harry.
Everyone slapped their hands over their ears as a colossal gurgling, slurping noise filled the air. Mr. Spongy's massive head bumped the floating candles out of the way as its whole body swelled and engorged like a balloon. Students exclaimed loudly as the tables floated downwards until the wood scraped the flagstones beneath. The toad slurped up the dregs with a monstrous purple tongue, Broad puddles lay here and there throughout the hall, nearly everyone aside from Harry and some of the teachers were soaked through and lay shivering on the tables.
A thick silence overtook the Great Hall, all eyes on the gigantic South African Toad that now squatted in the middle of the floor. It's huge bloated stomach bludged and quivered like a massive plate of really rank jelly, but it seemed to be in pain. Its wide and panicky orange eyes were bigger then the hoops on Quidditch goals, and if it could talk, Harry was pretty sure it would be saying, 'Oh crap.'
A tremor went through the immense belly.
Realisation was dawning on a few people and they began shouting again and lunging for nearby table legs.
"Sweet Mother of Merlin…" Harry whispered.
"IT'S GONNA BLOW!" Sirius howled. And then it did.
The world around Harry erupted with screams, as the Great Toad relented and opened its mouth. Just like tons of water breaking free from a dam, it surged forward, sweeping up everything in its path – including the four house tables. The raging flood crashed into the Great hall's doors, but luckily they buckled and splintered, flying off the hinges before the raft-like house tables reached them. It was like white-water-rafting in a canoe – with no oars. There was nothing to do but hang on for the ride.
The Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw table shot out first, sailing into the Entrance hall. The Gryffindor table slammed up against the Slytherin table as they were both carried out the hall. Harry was screaming along with the rest of them as he clung to a table leg. Still yelling, he looked next to him where Snape was doing the same, Snape met his gaze and they yelled at each other, before turning back and yelling as the two tables suddenly dipped and shot down a flight of stairs.
"Yippee!" a nearby portrait cheered as it was washed off the wall. The heads on the suits of armour turned towards the raging torrent, and the mouth guards on their helmets fell open, right before they were swallowed by the flood. The Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws were nowhere to be seen, having been washed down another corridor, but then the Gryffindors and Slytherins were just a little preoccupied with their own predicament.
"Oooh…" Harry winced in sympathy for the poor student who'd been hit with a chandelier. Then his stomach dropped through his toes as the tables plunged down another staircase, rebounding off a wall in a shower of spray.
"Oh no!" wailed the first year Alice Greengrass, her brown eyes wide. Up ahead was a doorway only wide enough for one of the tables. A new wave of screams rose from the students.
"EVERYBODY PADDLE!" the Gryffindor Prefect yelled, whipping out his wand with one hand and using it to propel the table forward.
"No! We're going first!" Lucius snarled; pulling out his own wand, all semblance of dignity washed away with the desert.
"Are you insane!" a Gryffindor girl yelped, "Don't be such an idiot, let us go first!"
"What, leaving us to crash into the wall?! Yeah, right!"
"Yeah exactly right! Else you'll crash us BOTH into the wall!" the Prefect yelled back.
"So slow down and let us go first!"
The Gryffindor Prefect rolled his eyes, exasperated, "Sure! I'll just get the brake, shall I?!"
The two Prefects glared at each other as the water eagerly rushed forward to a perilous end, completely oblivious to the screaming students.
"EVERYBODY LEAN LEFT!" Felix Summers suddenly roared from the other-side of Harry, and mostly on reflex people did as they were told (except for the few who inevitably leaned right). The Gryffindor table swung to the side, scrapping the wall as it shot down a side corridor, heading straight for – A WINDOW!
"Harry!" Sirius said from next to Harry.
"I just wanted to say…!"
"I BLAME THAT DEMON CAT!"
The table shattered the window and flew out into the dark night. A beautiful view of the starry sky hit their eyes with the half- moon glowing between the shadows of clouds. Then gravity stepped in and they all tumbled down to the inky depths of the Black Lake...
…Okay, it wasn't that far to fall, only fifteen feet or so.
By some miracle Harry managed to stay on the table, his arms and legs splayed out to brace himself, and his hands in a white-knuckle grip on the table legs. Funnily enough he was more scared now then he had been when hanging from the rail on the Hogwarts Express. One by one the soaked children climbed back onto the still upturned table, but some were splashing around in the water despite the cold, and laughing their heads off. James, now next to Harry, was excitedly telling anyone listening that the Giant Squid had pushed him up. Remus clamoured easily back onto the table and lay gasping in the middle. Lily was scowling and attempting to dry out her hair, while Alice giggled next to her. Pettigrew had collapsed in a shivering heap in the corner. A drenched shape awkwardly paddled to the table, dragged itself up, and shook its hair – spraying everyone in near vicinity.
"Oi, Sirius!" James protested, wiping his glasses with his fingers. Sirius just gave his usual canine grin as he panted for breath.
"Now that! Mr. Potter," Sirius addressed James proudly, "was one of Harry's pranks!"
James' mouth fell open, and he started spluttering, his head wrenching around to look at the other Black boy.
"Sirius," Harry said in a falsely sweet voice.
"Yes, oh insanely wonderful wrecker of havoc, and chaos inducing brother of mine?"
"Please shut up."
Remus snorted into laughter, the rest of them followed soon after.
The night stars twinkled through the enchanted ceiling, the light of the half-moon casting a blue tinge over the now nearly empty Great Hall. The students had been sent up to bed a while ago, leaving the Professors to clean up the mess, using their wands to levitate the chairs back into place. By the teachers table the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress watched over the proceedings.
"I don't believe this, Albus," Professor McGonagall said, "never has something like this happened before,"
Dumbledore regarded her patiently, "You are right, of course."
"To not even find the culprit – that just makes it worse. And do you hear about the riot on the Hogwarts Express? Who in Merlin's name is capable of such wide-scale mayhem?"
"It is a mystery indeed. However, I have a hunch that it might have something to do with our new first years,"
"The first years?" McGonagall repeated sceptically, "impossible." The Headmaster just raised a white eyebrow, and her face took on a look of horror. "You're serious? But it's only their first day. Who would… the sorting… those Blacks?!"
"Perhaps," Dumbledore's eyes twinkled, "though we have no proof."
"We can't just let this go, Albus!"
"I think we can, as you said, it is only their first day. It might have been an accident,"
Professor McGonagall groused, "Oh dear, what has Hogwarts got itself into?"
Professor Dumbledore smiled, "Your guess is as good as mine, Minerva. Though I have a feeling that… this day marks an era unlike anything Hogwarts has ever seen before…"
And so… it begins… (Mwahaha)
Phew, that was insanely long, but I just wanted to get through the first day : )
So what? Good? Not good?
Too long? (sweat-drops) Too short? (chokes in disbelief)
Needs work, or working well? A real win, or the loony bin?
You tell me XD R&R please.
XX – Mel