This is written for the Spring Challenge over at . The first four paragraphs, up to but not including the first spoken line, were given to us participants to continue writing on. So, that part isn't mine. The rest is, though, oh yes it is. *g* Much thanks to roterhimmel for betaing this!
Title: April Showers
Summary: Someone has the nerve to prank the Marauders. It's either a very fitting, or a very bad, way to celebrate the start of spring.
Characters/Pairings: Remus; Sirius, James, Peter, assorted characters (R/S pre-slash)
Wordcount: 1 957
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any of the characters; I'm just playing around a bit.
Remus sat on the window ledge and watched the first sunbeams breaking the horizon. It was the first day of spring.
Remus loved spring. The days were getting longer and longer, which meant the nights were shorter and shorter. The same was true for winter of course, but it was cold and transformations were more painful. The sun crept higher up over the hills and Remus smiled. Soon he could spend days under the tree by the lake and study outside. The wolf in him hated being stuck indoors all winter.
The dorm was silent except for Peter's soft snores and Remus was sure he was the only person in the school watching sunrise. Well, Dumbledore might be, but he didn't really count. Remus sighed contently and watched the sun chasing the shadows away beyond the Forbidden Forest.
Then the silence was shattered by Sirius screaming at the top of his lungs.
"I plead innocent, sir!" James cried as he jerked awake, fumbling and then falling arse first down onto the floor. "Bugger!"
"Wha's that? Sounds like an Augurey being strangled," Peter mumbled, awoken by the double commotion.
Remus was just about to reply Hell, I don't know; why're you asking me that? and had come so far as "Hell, I don't," when thundering steps up the stairs were heard and the door burst open a moment later.
"Who did it?" Sirius bellowed, face flushed and eyes flashing. "Who. The fuck. Did. It?"
Remus blinked. Sirius looked positively furious, chest heaving with every breath, and clutching a book tightly in his right hand. "Who did what, Sirius?"
"Oh, Moony!" Sirius wailed, throwing himself onto Remus' bed. Remus hoped it helped Sirius let out some of his frustration; he jolted pretty badly as the mattress shook, and he'd rather it was for a good cause. "You will understand just how foul this— this blasphemy is!"
"Blasphemy?" Remus glanced to the book in Sirius' hand. Out of the four of them, Sirius was the inveterate bookworm, but that didn't mean Remus took the desecration of books lightly.
Sirius let out a distressed sound. "Yes, blasphemy. Someone — a vile, dirty someone past all sense of shame — has violated my 'Brideshead Revisited'! All pages from chapter one to four are blank! Someone must've charmed them, but I can't break the spell!"
"No," Remus breathed, eyes wide.
"'Brideshead Revisited'?" James asked, frowning. He was sitting on the edge of his bed, legs too long to dangle anymore. "Isn't that that poofy Muggle book of yours?"
"It's not poofy," Sirius said, eyes flashing again. "It's a profound and moving tale about two men's strong friendship, and Catholicism, and how—"
"It is the book where he waits half of summer for a letter from the other bloke, and then spends the rest of the hols getting drunk on wine and mucking about at his mate's place, right?"
"Yeah, it is," Peter confirmed from his bed.
James nodded. "Like I said: poofy."
"Ignore them," Remus said calmly, resting a hand on Sirius' shoulder. Sirius huffed, but didn't fly at James. Crisis avoided, Remus turned his attention to the book.
Indeed, all the pages after the prologue up to chapter five were missing. Blank, matt paper was all there was left; only the page numbers remained, like a derision.
"We must catch the scally behind this, and make him pay," Remus concluded earnestly as he closed the book. Sirius nodded vigorously, though James looked incredulous.
"Come on," he said, "I mean, it's only a book. Yeah, it's a bloody insult that someone managed to prank us, but it's not like it's the end of the world. It's only a book, for Merlin's sake."
Sirius sniffed. "And you wonder why Evans calls you a barbarian."
Remus sighed as he saw McGonagall approaching and dug out one of his textbooks from his satchel. At least he was outdoors, by the lake; it was much nicer being told off when the sun shined upon you and a fresh breeze played with your hair, than when you were stuck indoors. Why had Dumbledore made him a prefect, again?
"Oh, bugger," James muttered as he too noticed McGonagall. "We're collared, mates."
"At least we had a few minutes of freedom," Sirius said, propping himself up on his elbows. "Right, Moony?"
"Potter. Black. Pettigrew. Lupin." Remus winced at the emphasis McGonagall put on his name, and buried his face further into the book. "I'm quite sure you are all aware that you're supposed to be in Potions at this moment. Would you please be so kind to explain to me— Mr. Lupin!"
Remus jerked his head up. "What, professor?"
"What is it that you're reading, young man?"
Bewildered, Remus turned the book in his hand to look at the cover. "It's my Defence book, pro— Oh." The dust-jacket — previously a dull and plain indigo — was now a blazing red, and showed a scantily clad witch in a very provocative pose, with the text 'Some Wizards Do It With Their Wand, Others With Their Staff — The Uncensored Experiences Of A Call Witch' stamped across it.
"I am astonished to see such a book in your possession. Twenty points from Gryffindor! And two evenings of detentions." An indignant flush covered McGonagall's cheeks, and when she held out her hand to confiscate the book, Remus gave it to her without a thought. "As for you other three." Here McGonagall gestured towards James, Sirius and Peter. "Please be present at my office seven o'clock tonight."
With that, she turned on her heels and marched back to the castle.
Not that any of them noticed. Remus was staring at his hands, where the book had been mere seconds ago, and the others were gaping at him.
"Moony," James said, giving an impressed whistle. "That was raunchy. Where did you get your hands on it?"
"Do you even know what it's about?" Peter asked in a too-innocent tone of voice.
"Of course I do," Remus said distractedly, not looking up. "I'm a teenage boy, aren't I? And I have no idea how it ended up in my bag."
Sirius, oddly silent until now, got up to his feet and brushed dirt off his knees. "Let's go," he said testily. "We better get inside so we're not late for History."
James shrugged and got up as well.
"You coming, Remus?" Peter asked as he picked up his bag.
"Yeah." Remus followed the others, though in a leisurely pace, lost in thought. He wondered if his initial reaction to the book-cover — surprise and then a reprimanding, "Really, that girl out to cover herself up. And stop bumping and grinding. It's just tasteless." — spoke in favour for or against his heterosexuality. He'd have to ponder on that some more later.
"I don't want to," Sirius grumbled, glaring at the floor.
Remus smiled mildly. Sirius'd been sulking for hours now, since they got caught skiving off. Then again, he had had a bad day; first the mutilation of 'Brideshead Revisited' and then the promise of detention on top of that. "Padfoot, come on now," Remus cajoled. "It's Quidditch practice; James wants you to come watch."
Sirius huffed. "Tosh. It's you who wants to watch."
Peter caught Remus' eyes and gestured impatiently to the door. Remus nodded, and turned back to Sirius. "Then can you please do it for my sake?"
Sirius glanced up. Taking the lack of instant refusal as a go-ahead, Remus grabbed Sirius' wrist and dragged him out of the armchair. "Woah!"
"Finally!" Peter exclaimed as they hurried out the portrait hole and down the hallways, he and Remus at the front with Sirius in tow. "It's your fault if we're late."
Remus shrugged and ignored Sirius' protests from behind him.
It took them five minutes to get to the Quidditch pitch, and when they did arrive, they found that the players hadn't even left the ground yet. In fact, all but one of them were getting rather acquainted with the ground, rolling around on it laughing their heads off. Not literally of course, but James — who was the only one still standing up — looked like he'd liked it to be.
"James?" Sirius asked, walking past Remus to see what the commotion was all about. "What's happ—"
"Feathers," James spluttered, eyes popping out of his head. "Fucking feathers!"
Remus had to stifle his laughter as he saw what James was referring to. His broom, a well-cared-for Cleansweep Five, was just as polished and sleek as ever, but yellow, orange and purple feathers were sticking out everywhere on the bristle-part.
"Desecration!" James squawked as he gestured to his jazzed up broomstick. "Sabotage! Utter degradation! There will be blood, I tell you! Heads shall roll!"
"Is that Easter finery?" Sirius asked, unconcerned, squinting slightly.
"Yes, I do believe it is," Remus grinned. He noticed he was still holding onto Sirius wrist and let go quickly.
Peter cocked his head to the left. "Bit early for that, innit?"
"I said, this is desecration! This can continue no longer! This means war!"
"Well, finally you realise that!" Sirius said, crossing his arms. "I told you this morning someone's after us, but did you listen? Oh no. I was just being paranoid, you said."
Remus shook his head and went together with Peter to find a seat at the grandstand, in the event that the players would pull themselves together and actually get into the air.
"Alright, so someone is after us."
"Brilliant analysis, Potter. Did you come up with it all by yourself?"
"Shut it, Black. So, as I was saying. Someone's bent on pranking us. We must make that person pay. Any suspects?"
Remus rolled his eyes. They had detention in an hour. Well, Sirius, James and Peter had; Remus was scheduled for two hours later, alone. If they wanted to catch their tormentor before then, squabbling in their dormitory probably wasn't the best way to do it.
"How would Slytherins get a hold of your poofy book?"
"Point. And it's not poofy."
"It'd have to be someone in Gryffindor then, right?" Remus interrupted, successfully cutting off James and Sirius' argument, if you could call it that.
Sirius nodded slowly. "And your book, by the lake... We were the only ones there..."
"And only three persons know where I keep my broom..." James added.
As one, the three of them turned to look at Peter. Peter, comfortably sitting on his bed and not having contributed to the discussion at all, met their gazes calmly.
"Well, that took you long enough," he said.
They stared. Then they squalled.
"You did this? You? Why!?"
"Wormtail, how could you? Betraying your friends like this?"
Peter shrugged. "We've been lazy, lately. Thought it was time to shake things up."
James narrowed his eyes at him. "You. Are going to pay. So much."
A grin spread on Peter's face. "Not if you don't catch me first!" he called and like a greased Cleansweep, he was out of the room, running down the stairs far too fast for a boy his size.
With a war cry, James and Sirius got to their feet and followed, Remus right behind them. As they chased Peter out the common room and through the hallways, laughing and yelling over-the-top threats, Remus had that sickly-sweet feeling of complete contentment. For some reason, that feeling only increased when Sirius grabbed his wrist and told him 'to use those spindleshanks or yours and run faster, you daft sod, Peter's getting away!'
Oh well. He'd have plenty of time pondering on that later. Now there was a rat to catch.