Harry opened the newspaper to the Quidditch section. Before he could begin reading about the latest win by Puddlemere, he noticed a new advert for George's shop.
WEASLEY WIZARD WHEEZES
50% OFF EVERYTHING!
THURSDAY, 12TH AUGUST ONLY!
It's never too early to get your prank items ready for the school year. So, come and fill your pockets with everything from Whiz-Bangs to Skiving Snackboxes to friendly Pygmy Puffs. Everything is on sale!
Harry's realized he was holding his breath and let out a gasp of air. There was no way George would post something like this. He'd only just reopened the shop several weeks earlier. If he even had the supplies for a sale like this, he wouldn't risk his whole stock on a ridiculous sale three weeks before school started. Students hadn't even gotten their school lists yet.
He set the paper down on the table and looked up at the ceiling, sighing. It wasn't even eight o'clock in the morning and they'd been pranked, and quite cruelly as well. Marcel, Harry's owl, swooped into the room holding an envelope and dropped it in front of Harry and flew back upstairs. Harry opened the envelope and read it to himself. While he was reading Lily walked in the room and poured a cup of tea for herself.
"Damnit!" Harry mumbled. He whispered something under his breath and cursed again. He crumpled the letter and threw it down on the table.
"What's the matter?" asked Lily.
Harry just shook his head before continuing to eat his breakfast. Lily stared at him and waited until he finally rolled his eyes and swallowed his cereal.
"Long day all backwards speak to pranked was I. Pay them make to going I'm but, it did who sure not I'm. Work at fool a like look to going I'm," he replied grimly. Lily poorly stifled her grin behind her mug and Harry angrily shovelled the last few bites of cereal in his mouth.
"Curse this to counter the know you do?" Harry asked hopefully. Lily looked confused for a short moment and then shook her head, giving him a sympathetic look. He sighed before standing up.
"Shop the at sale a for advert an posting by George pranked someone. Work to go I before him warn go to going I'm. Mum, later you see," Harry said quickly. He pecked her cheek as he passed by her and practically dove into the Floo.
He arrived at the shop and entered, finding George standing behind the counter putting the money drawer into the till.
"Morning this Prophet the in advert the see you did, hey," said Harry. George looked at him in confusion.
"Er, not sure what you just said but I see someone was pranked today," he replied with a smirk. "Wait, did you say advert? We didn't post an advert. I'm still making more stock for the school rush in a few weeks."
Harry showed him the newspaper clipping he'd taken before leaving. George read it and started shouting curse words.
"What am I going to do? My customers are going to come in today thinking they will get a discount. If I say it was an accident, I could lose customers. If I say okay, and give everyone who comes in a 50% discount, I'll lose almost all my stock and have hardly enough money to cover the lease and more supplies to make all the new products! What am I supposed to do now?!" George fumed.
Verity entered the store and waved hello with a doughnut, her mouth full of pastry and a steaming travel cup in the other hand. When she saw George's face she stopped dead in her tracks.
"What happened?" she asked after swallowing.
"Someone decided to prank me by putting an ad in the paper declaring a half off sale today on everything," George said angrily, crumpling the newspaper and throwing it across the room. She gave him a look.
"Well," she said with a sigh. "We can't turn people away who come in thinking they'll get a discount, but I'm sure we can think of something so we don't lose everything today." She walked behind the counter and set her purse and mug down.
"Mate, today luck good. Work. Go to got," Harry said quickly. He'd figured out that short sentences usually weren't as obviously backwards as long ones. George waved half-heartedly at him as he walked outside. Harry Apparated away and walked quickly to the lifts, nodding and grunting at people who spoke to him.
At the lift he jumped in at the last second and found himself standing next to Percy.
"Ello-hay, Arry-hay. Ood-gay orning-may," Percy said. He smiled at the younger man. He obviously couldn't tell he wasn't speaking English anymore.
"Morning," Harry said with a smirk.
"Id-day ou-yay ee-say the aper-pay oday-tay?" Percy asked. The other two occupants of the lift sniggered to themselves.
"Yes," Harry said hesitating. Finally, he decided there was no getting around the curse so he asked, "Shop George's for advert that posted who know you do?" The other occupants were all out giggling now. Percy chuckled.
"Ou-yay are ounding-say oquent-elyay oday-tay. And es-yay, I ow-knay oo-whay osted-pay the vertisment-adyay," Percy said surprisingly fast. Harry had to stop and think about a few of the words Percy had said before he understood what the red-head had meant.
"It posted who me tell you could? Them strangle to ready be might George think I," he said, ignoring the comment about being eloquent. The two women in the back of the lift were red in the face and practically holding each other up by this point. Percy kept glancing at them in confusion.
"I am ot-nay at iberty-lay oo-tay ay-say at the oment-may. If eorge-Gay is itated-irray e'll-hay ust-jay ave-hay oo-tay uck-say it up. It is an ank-pray ar-way. Ah, is-thay is ay-may op-stay. Ave-hay a ice-nay ay-day," Percy said before he stepped out of the door of the lift. One of the women followed him telling her friend to "Ave-hay a ice-nay ay-day," before chuckling to herself.
The doors shut and Harry frowned. From what Percy had said, it sounded like he might have been the one to prank George.
"Did he say prank war?" asked the woman behind Harry. She was an elderly woman, with lavender-grey hair and very thick bifocal glasses. She was wearing a navy blue robe with bright yellow stitching.
"Yes. Ours of friends and family some between," he muttered.
"I know the curse you're suffering from. Would you like me to remove it?" she said, raising her eyebrow.
"You could?" Harry perked up. She chuckled and waved her wand at him.
"Say something," she said.
"Um…hello? How are you today? My name is Harry…Oh brilliant! My words aren't backwards anymore! Thank you very much! What's your name?" he asked.
"Hi. I'm doing well this morning, you're welcome, and my name is Aggie Walters. I'm in the Communications Department," she said as the lift came to Harry's floor.
"Well, thank you very much Aggie Walters. I don't know how I was going to get through my day like that," he said with a big smile. She nodded to him as the doors shut and he sauntered over to the training room.
At lunch, Harry went down to George's shop to see how things were going. As he entered the full to capacity store, he noticed a sign on the door.
Sale limit; 5 items per person per purchase, and all customers are limited to one purchase today. (So that means no coming back later to get more stuff.)
Harry smiled. It looked like they'd come up with a way to save themselves some stock. Harry worked his way to the counter where he found Ginny, Ron, and Verity.
"Hey, where's George?" he asked.
"We each get fifteen minutes today for a break, and he's on his right now. He's either in the back, or he ran out to get something to eat," Ginny said as she rang up a small pile of things. "Your total is seventeen Galleons, three Sickles, and eight Knuts."
"What? Everything is half off today, so you better knock off some of that," said a kid that looked like he was twelve.
"Everything is half off," Ginny said with a sigh. "But there's a limit to five items per person per purchase. You were in here an hour ago, so you used your one purchase. Do you still want these?" she asked as she held up a box of Whiz-Bangs and trick sweets.
"I was not here an hour ago! I want my discount," the kid said loudly.
"Kid, we have ways of knowing who was here and who wasn't. You were here and I know it. So either give me the money and take your things, or get out," Ginny said wearily.
"How about I take my things and you go suck a hippogriffs fat—" The kid began to shout as he reached onto the counter for the items. Harry reached over and grabbed the kid's shirt and pulled him away from the counter.
"That is my girlfriend you're disrespecting, and I own part of this shop. I will not have people disrespecting the people I care about and the people who work here. It's time you left, and if I were you, I wouldn't bother coming back for a while. I also think you should have your mouth washed out with a Scourgify," Harry said as he dragged the kid to the door. He pushed him outside and a woman standing nearby rushed over.
"What are you doing manhandling my son?" she cried. Harry let go of the kid's shirt and stood still, waiting for the woman to come closer. The kid turned around, swinging his fist, which Harry quickly grabbed in one hand and held on to it, just tightly enough so the kid couldn't get away, but just loose enough so that he didn't hurt him.
"Is this your son, madam?" Harry asked in his 'Auror' voice. He silently thanked Merlin that he'd stayed in his Auror training robes instead of changing into his Muggle jeans and shirt before his lunch break. The kid stopped struggling when he realized who had his fist in a death grip. The woman stopped within five feet and gaped at Harry. She quickly nodded her head as she stepped up to her child and placed her hands on the boy's shoulders.
"Your son was trying to acquire some things from this store which were labelled as sixteen-plus. Is he sixteen or older?" he asked. She shook her head and glanced down at the kid with a frown."He was also caught verbally abusing the young lady at the cash-register when she wouldn't give him a second discount, when it was clearly stated one discounted purchase order per person." Harry asked, glancing at the kid.
"He verbally abused…what did he say?" she demanded getting angry. Her hands, which had been gently placed on her son's shoulders, tightened, and Harry could see the kid wince. Whether it was from the pain of his mother's nails digging into his shoulders, or the lecture he was about to get, Harry didn't know or care.
"What he said isn't important, just that he shouldn't be saying stuff like that. It was an added problem since the young woman he insulted was my girlfriend." Harry crouched down to the kid's eye level.
"You need to understand that it's not your right to enter this store. It's a privilege to be able to buy things here and privileges can be taken away. This is an opportunity to learn from your mistakes. You're lucky I was there. Ginny would have just cursed you and had her brother carry you outside by your feet where he'd probably drop you on your head. Now, I didn't come down to our shop today on my very short lunch break to deal with yobs like you. I'm going have to ban you from our store for the rest of the year. If I hear you tried to come back this summer, I will be very upset. Got it?" Harry said sternly. The kid nodded his head and stuck his hands in his pocket.
Harry stood up and looked at the woman, who was still gaping at him. "Have a nice day then, ma'am," he said as he turned away.
Back in the store, he went behind the counter and hugged Ginny from behind. She giggled as she rang up someone's order and told them the price. Once they were gone, she turned and gave him a tight hug and whispered her thanks in his ear.
They couldn't stand there hugging for too long because of how busy the store was, so he let her go and told her he had to get going back to work. She pouted and gave him a peck on the cheek before he walked back outside where he ran into George.
"Hey, I was looking for you. Where were you?" asked Harry.
"Went to the Prophet Office to see who posted that ad. The description they gave me matches the look of one Percival Weasley. So I made a stop and have already retaliated. He should expect a visit later tonight," George said ominously. He grinned darkly and Harry shuddered. Percy had overstepped a boundary on this prank so Harry believed he deserved what was coming to him, but he still didn't ever want to get on George's bad side.
"Okay, well, I had to ban a kid from the store. He was trying to scam us for more items, pretending he hadn't been in the shop earlier. Plus, he was being very rude to Ginny. I forgot to get a picture or name or something to remember him by, but I think I scared him pretty well, 'Harry Potter yelled at me' and all that," Harry said quietly. George laughed.
"We've only had to 'ban' a few people from the shop before. There really is no way to officially keep track of who's been banned and who isn't. Unless it's a Malfoy. Then we know for sure," he laughed.
"Well, I best get back to work. Oh! I forgot to tell you last night that the Snape prank we did on Sirius seems to be working according to Kreacher. He's been getting really jumpy and paranoid the last couple days," Harry said with glee. George perked up and was grinning when Ron poked his head out of the shop door.
"George, your break was up ten minutes ago, we could really use you in here," he said before going back inside.
"I gotta go. See you tonight? You three should come over after dinner for a planning session," Harry called as he walked backward away from the shop.
"Sure, no problem. I'll tell the others. See ya later, mate," George called out while as he waved before entering the shop. He stuck his head back outside and shouted at Harry.
"Wait a minute, you aren't talking backwards anymore!"
Harry grinned and waved before popping out of sight.
Several hours later, Harry returned home exhausted and sore from physical training. He'd spent the afternoon practising physical combat, wrestling wands away from the training dummies, chasing suspects, and dodging oncoming spells. Thankfully they were only minor bludgeoning spells, so they only left large bruises and a general soreness, but the dummies were brutal fighters. They elbowed kidneys, tried to gouge out eyeballs, scratched so hard it broke skin, and generally fought dirty.
Harry stepped out of the Floo and limped to a chair nearby, flopped down into it and winced. Sirius and James, who had been sitting having some tea, watched this with frowns. They could see Harry had a black eye, a chunk of hair had been pulled out at the hair line of his forehead, his robes were torn and missing an entire sleeve, his lower lip was split open and as fat as a Giant Garden Slug, and there was a splotch of dried crusty blood on his neck. Not to mention every visible part of his body was covered in bruises.
"Did a troll kick you down a mountain?" James asked.
"And then sit on you?" Sirius added.
Harry moaned and went to set his forehead on the table, but his back was so stiff he couldn't quite lean forward enough. So he placed an elbow on the table and settled for leaning his good eye into the palm of his bruised hand.
"Training was a bitch today," he mumbled.
"No shit…" Sirius muttered.
"Is that tea?" asked Harry.
"I'll get you a cup," James said standing up. That's when Harry noticed an orange, feline tail poking out of the back of James' pants.
"Er, dad…what's with the tail?" asked Harry with a half grin. The other half of his mouth wouldn't work. James stopped halfway to the cupboard and turned.
"Did you do the tails?" he asked in a menacing tone.
"Nope. But I might have to hug whoever did do it. Wait, did you say tails, as in plural?" Harry perked up. James glanced at Sirius who glared into his mug.
"Sirius, you have a little tail too?" Harry asked, barely containing his mirth. Sirius shook his head. Harry glanced at his dad who was smiling. Harry could just see James' tail flicking back and forth.
"He doesn't exactly have a little tail," James said, grinning. Harry's smile grew wider.
"Show me! Show me! I want to see your tail, Sirius. Does it look like Padfoot's tail? Do you look like those photos of Animagus transformations gone wrong?" Harry asked, his pain mostly forgotten.
Sirius sighed, gave James a death glare and stood up. Or rather he scooted to the edge of his seat, thrust his pelvis forward some more, and then stood up arching his back and baby stepping forward until his five foot long, fat, green, scaly tail was pulled out of the back of the chair.
Harry started laughing so hard he had to hold his ribs and gasp for air. James chuckled along with Harry as Sirius stood there awkwardly, arms crossed and tail sweeping back and forth in a slow arc, hovering just inches from the ground and extending several feet out behind the man.
"Oh. My. God," Harry said after his laughing fit ended. "I may kiss whoever did this one to you. This is brilliant. Why is dad's so much shorter?" he asked.
"We're not entirely sure. But I have a feeling it has something to do with our morning showers. They didn't show up until about half an hour after we were done showering. Bill and Arthur sent messages saying they have them too. I'm not sure about Percy," James said as he sat back down, handing Harry a mug of tea.
Harry took the tea, and was about to sip it when he stopped, glanced at his dad and then back at the tea. He smirked, set the mug down and waved his wand over it. A white powder flew up and out of the liquid and settled in a pile at the centre of the table.
"Nice try dad. Remember, I grew up around the Weasley twins. I learned that spell ages ago," Harry said before taking a sip. "Mmm, chamomile."
James shook his head and took a sip of his own tea. Just then the Floo flared up and Lily stepped into the room. She stepped toward the table, smiling at James. She glanced at Harry and then to Sirius opening her mouth to say a greeting, but stopped in her tracks and looked back to Harry.
"What the hell happened to you?" she cried, throwing her heavy bag at James who barely caught it with a gruff "Oomph."
"I'm okay, mum. We had a lot of physical training today. They gave me a salve to rub on the bruises and cuts. It looks a lot worse than it feels," he said. "OW!" he shouted suddenly when she poked a bruise on his collar bone.
"Where is that salve?" she asked, arms crossed.
"In my pocket," Harry said grumpily as he rubbed where she poked.
"Upstairs." She pointed to the stairs.
"Mum, I'm fine. Okay? I can do it later. Besides, Ginny's coming over soon…" Harry finished lamely. James and Sirius sniggered.
"Let me reiterate. Upstairs. Now," she said firmly. "I did not join Healer Training so I can just let you sit in pain when you come home as one giant bruise."
Harry gave his dad a look, but James just shrugged and shook his head. So Harry gently stood up and attempted to stomp out of the room in a huff, but the act of stomping his feet hurt too much so he ended up walking out of the room lightly, shoulders slightly hunched with his mother following him.
They slowly walked up the three flights of stairs to his room. He grudgingly took off his robes and shirt so she could rub the salve on his shoulders and back, while he did his chest. When they were finished he turned around and she rubbed it on his face, gently around his eye and lip.
"I hate seeing you in pain Harry. I hope you understand why I feel I need to do this for you instead of letting your girlfriend do it later," she said softly.
"I know mum," Harry said softly. He smiled and gave her a hug when she was finished.
"Did your father have a tail?" she asked suddenly. Harry burst out laughing.
"Wait until you see Sirius'. It's five feet long," he chuckled. She grinned maniacally and led the way back down the kitchen. When they arrived Sirius and James were talking about the houses that were going to be built.
"You know Sirius, I have this new dress. It would go great with your tail," Lily said casually as they entered the room.
"Oh ha, ha," Sirius said. "You know, this tail prank seems more up your alley, Lils. If I didn't know any better, I'd say someone here was cheating," he said wagging his finger at her.
"Oh knock it off. You're just being a sore loser. No one is cheating," Lily said as she sat down with a cup of tea.
Kreacher chose that moment to announce dinner was finished. Bowls, platters, pitchers, and tureens of various foods showed up on the table when he snapped his fingers.
"Dinner is served Master Harry," said the smiling, aging elf before popping away.
"Are we celebrating something?" Harry asked as he stared at the massive amounts of food in front of them. "Or is Ron coming tonight and didn't tell me?"
"Hermione told me earlier that she and Ron were going out for dinner tonight but they'd be here after, so that's a no on the Ron," James said as he dug into a roast the size of a Kneazle.
Harry shrugged and dug into the huge Sheppard's pie directly in front of him. He grabbed a spoonful each of potatoes and corn, piling them in the same spot on his plate, then returning for a scoop of gravy which he poured over the pile.
"AARGH!" screamed Sirius as he tried to jump up. But his tail was once again weaved through the back opening of the chair, so instead of making it to his feet, he fell back into his chair which was flung backwards, hitting the wall which caused it to crash sideways onto the floor.
"Ow…my tail bone…" Sirius moaned.
James, Harry, and Lily all sat staring at Sirius' foot which was stuck up in the air propped between him, the wall, the chair, and the table.
"What in the name of Merlin was that about?" Lily asked.
"Little help here?" asked Sirius who was struggling to shift the heavy table away from himself in order to crawl out from under it. Harry and James jumped up and pulled the massive table away from the wall while Lily reached down and pulled the broken chair off of Sirius' tail. Freed of the wreckage, Sirius was able to stand up finally.
"Oh, are those pork chops?" he said pulling a different chair towards himself and sitting in it sideways as he pulled the platter of chops closer to himself.
"Er, Sirius, what was that all about?" asked Lily as she handed the chair portion to her husband. James waved his wand over the broken chair and repaired it silently.
"What was what?" Sirius asked before taking a heaping bite of pork chop and mint sauce.
The Potters all looked at each other.
"Oh, I don't know, the screaming, the waltz you danced with the chair, ending up under the table tangled amongst the furniture?" said Harry casually as he gingerly sat down.
"Oh! That…Yeah that was nothing. Just keeping you guys on your toes. These pork chops are amazing, you should try some," Sirius said handing the platter to Lily. He kept glancing over to the corner near the boiler room, down to his plate, and back to the corner. Harry had an idea of what was going on and tried to hide his grin. James and Lily shook their heads and started eating.
Several minutes went by with Harry carefully watching Sirius out of the corner of his eye. It was getting increasingly difficult to not laugh. Sirius couldn't concentrate on his food because every minute or so he'd look up and his head would swivel quickly to one side as he stared at a corner of the room intently for a few seconds. Then he'd go back to eating, his eyes glancing over at that spot until he'd suddenly swivel in another direction and repeat the process with a different area of the room.
James and Lily kept watching Sirius too, but their glances were more out of concern than of humour. Finally, after about the tenth time Sirius almost got whiplash from spinning his head around, Lily cleared her throat.
The noise caused Sirius to jump a foot in the air and fling a dumpling at James' forehead. Harry burst out laughing as the soggy bread slid down his father's face and plopped onto the plate below. Sirius grinned sheepishly and said, "Oops."
"Sirius what is going on?" Lily asked.
"Nothing! Nothing is going on," Sirius said quickly. "Really," he added at her sceptical look. "I'm just fine, I just…" He paused when he saw Harry's poor attempt to hide his grin.
"You? You did this to me?" Sirius yelped. "Dammit Harry! I thought I was being haunted by Snape! How could you do that to me?" Sirius shouted as he stood up and started around the table towards his godson. Harry jumped up as well and ran the other direction laughing. They played cat and mouse for a few minutes before Sirius reached forward and grabbed a leg from the roasted game hen and chucked it at Harry. It bounced off the side of his head and landed with a splat on James' plate, splashing potatoes and gravy into his lap. He gaped at the gravy dripping into his lap and glanced at Sirius who grinned and laughed.
Lily scowled and grabbed her napkin to wipe her mouth when she heard a wet squelching sound. She looked up just in time to see a glob of green Jell-O with bits of fruit in it splatter across Sirius' face. James laughed loudly at Harry who was holding a green, dripping serving spoon and grinning from ear to ear.
"Oh, it's on little boy," Sirius said with a smile as he reached for the bowl of potatoes. As he turned to run towards Harry he tripped on his tail and the bowl went flying and landed on Lily's head, upside down. Lily, in shock, stood up quickly with potatoes running down her back and her cleavage.
Everyone stopped in surprise and waited. She took a deep breath as she reached up to remove the bowl from her head. She set it down and looked up.
"You are going to pay for that," she said slowly tapping the table with her wand. Before Sirius knew what was happening he was being pelted with grapes from the end of the table. A pitcher of pumpkin juice floated above him and quickly dumped onto his head which caused him to shriek like a little girl.
James stood up and yelled, "FOOD FIGHT!"
Harry whooped and began throwing fistfuls of vegetables at anyone who was nearby while James whipped slabs of pork at Sirius and Harry like Frisbees. Sirius, still being pelted by grapes, groped the table for anything and came up with a bowl of custard which he grasped with both hands and thrust the contents towards Harry like it was a bucket of water. Harry was laughing as he threw a handful of corn at his mother when the tidal wave of custard slapped in him the side of his body. He grabbed a torte and crossed the room to Sirius in three steps and shoved the whole torte in Sirius' face.
James, now out of meat to throw, grabbed another pitcher of ice water and waved his wand over it, changing the lid into a tube. Another quick spell later and he had a hose spraying ice water at Sirius and Harry, who both shrieked loudly. Lily came up behind James and shoved a large bowl of bread rolls down his pants. While James spun around she grabbed the bowl with the rest of the Jell-O and poured it down his shirt. He retaliated by hugging her tightly as he rubbed the crown of potatoes into her hair more. She yelped and pushed him away where he slipped and fell down next to Harry and Sirius, who were still trying to untangle themselves.
She stood, raising her hands in the air, and shouted, "I win! I am the queen of Food Fights!"
Behind her she heard clapping and cheering. She spun around and found Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and George standing in front of the fireplace. "Thank you. Thank you," she said as she bowed. All of a sudden she felt hands grab the waist line of her trousers and a giant mass of chicken was shoved down her pants. She stood up ramrod straight, eyes wide, and her jaw dropped.
"Is there a chicken down my pants?" she asked.
"Yes. Yes there is, your majesty," Harry laughed from behind her. James and Sirius rolled around laughing so hard they were silent. The others by the fireplace all snorted and slapped their hands over their mouths when Lily glared at them.
"Why don't we just go upstairs," Hermione muttered. The four clean kids ran along the side of the room until they got to the stairs where they quickly disappeared.
Lily reached down and pulled the chicken out of her pants, set it on the table and turned around.
"I am going to take a shower. Do not leave this mess for Kreacher to clean by himself," she said she crossed the room with her head held high. As she lifted her leg for the first step, a chunk of chicken plopped out of her trouser leg onto the floor. She hesitated for a second, while the guys began laughing before she continued the climb to the next floor with dignity.
"I think I'm going to take a shower as well," James said with a sly grin. He started following Lily while Harry grimaced.
"Oh Merlin, I did not want to hear that," he groaned. Sirius stood up and arched his back.
"I think I'm going to head up too. You got this, right?" he said as he headed towards the door.
"Uh, I don't think so Padfoot. You're the one who started this whole thing. You get to help clean it up now," Harry said, quickly crossing the room and blocking the doorway.
"Just call Kreacher to help? He's an elf, he'll be giddy at the sight of this room," Sirius said as he waited for Harry to move.
"Mum said not to make Kreacher do it all, and I'm not going to be the only one cleaning besides the elf," Harry complained.
"It's a bummer you don't have more than one elf," Sirius said, raising his eyebrow. Harry grinned.
"Jari, Mitsy," he called out. A couple pops later the two elves had arrived and saw the room. Their eyes grew wide as they stared at the mess. "Hey guys, we kind of made a mess, would you mind horribly if we asked you to clean it up for us? I have more food down my clothes than I care to admit and could really use a bath," Harry said. Sirius had already disappeared up the stairs.
"We can clean for Master Harry," Mitsy said quickly. Harry thanked them and ran up the stairs. He stopped by the drawing room and let his friends know he would be back after his shower in a few moments. He ran up to his room to grab some clothes, but since Sirius was in the shower on that floor he went back down to the first floor loo.
Ten minutes later he sat down next to Ginny, who rubbed his shoulder and smiled at him.
"Okay. Prank Report. Who wants to start?" he asked. Hermione raised her hand, which caused George and Ron to roll their eyes.
"I think we may have more people participating than we know. Take that prank last night for example. Everyone shared a dark secret of theirs except Percy," she said.
"You didn't share a secret," Ron pointed out. Hermione blushed. "Wait…You did? Who heard it?" he asked her.
"My secret came out when I was talking to Fleur, Ginny, and Andromeda," she admitted.
"Well what was it?" asked George with a grin.
"I am not going to tell you, and neither is Ginny because I heard another one of her secrets, and if she tells mine, then I'll tell hers," Hermione said quickly. Ginny who had been smiling evilly, suddenly was frowning.
"You wouldn't," she stated. Hermione simply raised an eyebrow and smirked.
"Ho, ho, the bookwork can fight dirty," George said with a laugh.
"Ginny will still tell me, won't you? I mean there can't be anything worse than dreaming of having Malfoy's babies," Ron said scathingly. Ginny's face burned red and Ron blanched. "Wait…you mean…ugh! Never mind, I don't want to know what's worse than having Malfoy's babies." Ginny shrunk down in her seat next to Harry who rubbed her shoulder.
"Well, I believed Percy when he said he didn't do it. This isn't something Percy could think of," Harry said.
"Yeah, Percy is more of a destroy-a-person-then-laugh-and-kick-them-when-they're-down kind of prankster," George said bitterly.
"What do you mean?" asked Hermione.
"That dolt cost me almost fifty percent of my inventory today with that damn advertisement he posted. Now I have just enough money for either the lease payment or to buy and make more stock. I don't have enough for both anymore, let alone paying workers to help make more stock in the next three weeks before students come for their school supplies," George spat angrily.
"George, don't worry about the lease, I can cover that for you or you can take it out of my portion of the month's profit. Consider it my contribution for this year," Harry said. "What did you do to retaliate?" he asked.
"Well, I was walking back to the shop and saw a woman wearing a pretty skimpy outfit and it made me think of those hussies that sell themselves on street corners. So I made a detour to Muggle London and…" George trailed off.
"You didn't," Hermione said in shock. "You paid a woman to…to…What exactly did you pay a woman to do?" she asked hesitantly.
"Just make a visit to Percy's flat tonight when he gets home for work," George said casually.
"Oh no, George! Why would you do that? That's going too far," Hermione said. "We have to go there and stop her."
George looked at his watch and said, "It's probably too late." Hermione huffed and sat back in her chair.
"George Weasley, you went too far. This Prank War is supposed to be in good spirits and to have fun," she started but George stopped her.
"Just don't even bother, Hermione. Percy started it with posting a half off sale ad in the Prophet. He's lucky I didn't hire a girl to visit him at work. He knows how hard it was to start the shop back up. He was the one who convinced me to keep it going! He should know better than to do something that could destroy me. Now I'm going to owe Harry and have to work my arse off to get new products ready before the school year starts. He deserves everything that happens to him from now to the end of this war," George said vehemently. He crossed his arms and exhaled violently. Hermione wisely stayed silent.
There was a moment before Ron perked up. "The alarm clocks worked pretty well. Percy came over last night and slept on the couch around three in the morning. I saw him when I got up for a drink of water. He was complaining about it this morning," he said with a grin.
"I'm not sure who did it, but he was speaking Pig Latin today at the Ministry. I don't think he even realized it either," Harry added with a grin. "Who did that one?" he asked looking at Ron and Ginny. They looked at each other and shrugged.
"It wasn't us," Ginny said slowly. George and Hermione shared a look and shook their heads to indicate they hadn't done that one either. They all had confused looks on their faces.
"Perhaps it was a case of friendly fire in the older group," Hermione said. "Someone had to do that candy joke, but it got everyone. I'm assuming that it was one of the older group and they didn't want to admit they hit themselves with that prank." George and Ginny both nodded their agreement.
Harry waited for a few moments before he spoke up. "The Snape prank and Kreacher pranks worked great on Sirius by the way," he said. Everyone smiled as he told them about Sirius' episode at dinner and what Kreacher had told him the other day.
"By the way, who did the tails?" asked Harry. Before anyone could answer, a weasel Patronus flew into the room.
"George Weasley get your arse home right this instant!" came Arthur's angry voice from the ethereal being.
Everyone shared a glance.
"He swore," Ginny said with a squeak.
"Dad never swears. He must be really angry," Ron whispered.
George almost looked scared as he stood up and started for the stairs. The others shared a glance and jumped up to follow him. George Apparated from the entryway saying he was going to arrive at the gate and walk to the house so he could prepare himself for a dad-lecture while the rest of them decided to Floo.
As they entered the kitchen, Harry found three elves in a screaming match. The kids stood around staring at the elves for a moment. Harry whispered they should just go and he'd meet them in a few moments. So Ginny and Ron started for the fireplace while Hermione hovered, anxiously dancing from foot to foot, wringing her hands.
"Just go Hermione, I'll deal with this," Harry said, gently guiding her to the Floo.
When she was gone he turned and waited for a break in the high pitched argument.
"HEY!" he shouted finally. The elves stopped bickering and glanced at Harry with fear. "What is going on here?" he asked calmly. His calm voice made it obvious he wasn't about to go on a punishing spree, so the elves all decided to speak at once.
"Ah, ah, ah! One at a time, please. Kreacher, you go first," Harry directed.
"Kreacher will not tolerate other elves in his kitchen!" yelled Kreacher stomping his little foot.
"Master Harry ordered Mitsy and Jari to clean. We has to finish the job!" shrieked Mitsy, wringing her ears.
The elves began yelling at each other again and Harry had to shout and clap his hands loudly to get their attention again.
"Okay, we need to get a few things straight I guess. Kreacher, Mitsy and Jari are the Potter family elves. I met them a few days ago and was planning on introducing you to them soon. I know you're getting older and I figured you might like a little more help around here. Grimmauld is a big place and you're just one elf. Do you have a problem with that?" Harry asked.
"Does Master Harry not want Kreacher anymore? Is Kreacher being replaced?" asked Kreacher in a meek, timid voice. He stood still wringing his toga and hunching his shoulders.
"No! No, of course not, Kreacher. You are just as much a part of our family as anyone of us and you aren't going anywhere. I just thought that you might want some more help. You would be the oldest and since this is the house you've worked in for most of your life, you would be in charge here, but if you'd rather Mitsy and Jari stay at Meadow Haven, we can do that too," Harry said carefully wording what he was saying.
"Kreacher would be in charge?" asked the elf.
"Here at Grimmauld Place you would. Mitsy and Jari could come and go as needed. You might even be asked to teach their son a few tricks of the trade. He's young and still in need of some training, right Mitsy?" Harry asked. She nodded hesitantly.
"Yous has a elf child?" Kreacher asked the other two, who nodded. "Kreacher guesses that would be a fine agreement," he finally said.
"Does that work for you two as well? If we need help here and Kreacher is busy with something else we'll call you two or Meelo, but when you're here Kreacher has the final say. And you can send Meelo here occasionally to learn more about elf work from Kreacher. Okay?" Harry asked. He was getting antsy to find out why Arthur was so angry.
"We would be in charge at Meadow Haven, right Master Harry?" asked Jari.
"Of course you would. I don't really see any reason Kreacher would need to go there unless we all moved there and sold Grimmauld Place, which we have no plans of doing," Harry added quickly, seeing Kreacher's eyes begin to widen and tear up. "There's too much to do here for one elf, let alone an elf that is fairly old. Is that okay?" Harry asked again.
Mitsy and Jari shared a glance. "We's agreeing," said Mitsy finally.
"But who is to finish this room?" asked Kreacher.
"Why don't you all work together," Harry said. "Get to know each other. You are all family now, so I'd like it if you could get along nicely." The elves all nodded and started working. Harry sighed and stood up. He travelled over to the Burrow and found Ron, Ginny, Hermione, Bill, and Fleur sitting in the kitchen. Shouting could be heard from the living room.
Ginny waved to Harry to join her at the counter she was sitting on. He jumped up and she started to whisper to him what he had missed.
"Percy came home from work and found Penny making a big meal for the two of them. It's some sort of anniversary for them I think," she started. Harry's eyes got wide.
"Uh oh," he muttered.
"It gets worse," she said. "Percy had been told to go home early eventually because of the whole speaking Pig Latin all day. His boss was tired of listening to it so he sent him home a couple hours early. You were right. He didn't even know he'd been cursed. So he got home and Penny removed the curse for him. So they sit down to eat and there's a knock at the door."
"Oh crap," he said quietly. She nodded and continued speaking very quickly and quietly.
"Penny tells him to stay there, she'd answer it. So she goes and he keeps eating. He suddenly hears yelling at the door and jumps up to run over there. Penny is yelling at the hooker that she has the wrong address and she should be ashamed of herself, when Percy hears the tart say his name. He gets Penny to quiet down and asks who sent her.
"The hooker says something like, 'It's a treat from the boys. They know you were eyeing me the other night so they decided to get you a treat. And here I am, Percy dearest.' That was right before she dropped her coat and was standing there in her see through skivvies and heels.
"Penny knew Percy had been busy a few nights before, but didn't realize that he was here at our house. So she gets really angry and starts screaming at Percy about cheating on her. He's trying to explain the whole Prank War and where he'd actually been, and the whole time the harlot was trying to pull Percy's trousers down and was grabbing his bum and biting him. He kept trying to push the woman away and run after Penny, but he couldn't really do it easily without hurting her, and he's too nice to hurt a woman.
"Finally, he screamed at the woman to get off of him and leave before he called the Please-men. She pulled her hand out of his trousers and left. By that point Penny had packed all her things in a box and was leaving also. She punched Percy in the face and gave him a black eye as she left screaming about never talking to her again. Percy came here looking for George and found dad, who didn't have to try very hard to get the story out of Percy. And that's when dad sent the Patronus. George got here and they all went into the living room. He started yelling about the store and losing so much money, Percy yelled out George for being a pervert, mum and dad yelled about going overboard and inappropriate responses and here we are." She finished before taking a deep breath.
They sat and listened for a while until it quieted down. Eventually, Molly poked her head out and waved them all into the living room. As they sat down James, Lily, and Sirius showed up looking confused.
"We have a problem," Molly said. "These two went too far with a couple pranks, so we decided to call the groups together and have a chat." The adults sat down and waited while Molly explained what had happened.
"I think this War is done. It went too far and now people have gotten hurt, either financially or relationship-wise, and I will not tolerate my children behaving this way," Molly said sternly.
"This Prank War was supposed to be about having fun and celebrating life, not to hurt or humiliate each other," Arthur added.
"But we also know that it wouldn't be fair to just end something that everyone else is enjoying. So we have three options. The first is that we end the war tonight and just be done with it. Two, George and Percy are banned from any more pranks for the rest of the game. Or three, we finish the game tomorrow as planned and these two can come up with a way to make it up to the other for crossing the line," finished Molly.
Everyone sat for a moment.
"I'm just going to put this out there," Hermione said slowly. "I don't think we should end it tonight. Not when we only have one more day left." All the kids looked at her in surprise. "I don't know about you guys, but this whole game has kept my mind off of other things. And I've actually had fun. As much as I disagree with George and Percy's pranks, I don't think everyone should be punished," she said with a shrug.
"I am all for ending this tonight. I did not want to participate in the first place. I thought it was a pointless, childish…game and I wanted no part in it, but I was coerced into joining," Percy said haughtily.
"Percy, do you remember the conversation we had the night the game started?" asked Arthur.
Percy nodded briskly. "I don't really see what that has to do with—" he started before Arthur cut him off.
"Percy, I tried to convince you to participate because I had hoped it would lighten you up a bit. Like you said, a little gaiety is a good thing. People need to laugh and have fun, and I know you had fun helping us come up with pranks. You were even successful with a few. Now, I know today was a little unfair to both you and George, but I agree with Hermione. To end it now, would be punishing everyone and that isn't fair. Can you two think of a way to make it up to the other?" asked Arthur.
"Well," George sighed. "I can go talk to Penny tomorrow and explain it was my fault. I honestly didn't know she would be there tonight. I am sorry about that," George said hanging his head. Percy stared at him for a few moments.
"I guess I could spend a few nights helping make new stock for you before school starts. I've balanced the stores account books for you, and I knew how much you sold in a single day and I guess I didn't realize how many people would actually come because of that one advertisement," Percy said. There was silence for several minutes before Ginny piped up.
"George, we can all help out making new products if you need us. Now that I'm an adult I can do magic for you and help out more at the shop," she added with a smile. Ron nodded his head.
"I can help out on weekends," said Harry. "When I'm not in training or with Teddy at least," he added.
"Hell, I can come down as well now that Godric's Hollow is cleaned out," James said with a grin. George's face lit up.
"Really, you don't mind helping out?" he asked. James shook his head.
"I've been meaning to come down and check out the shop. What with everything I've heard about it, I'm eager to help out a second generation of Marauders," he replied. George looked like he might faint with glee.
"Well, it looks like that's decided then. Tomorrow is the end of the Prank War," Lily said.
"I've been meaning to ask this since we all got here, what is with the tails?" asked Hermione. Everyone looked around at each other and laughed.
In addition to James and Sirius' tails, Arthur had a short stumpy one that was incredibly furry, like a fox tail. Bill had a skinny one that was about two feet long and had black spots. Percy's was short enough to hide in his trousers, but created a small lump that was fairly obvious, seeing as how it wiggled every once in a while.
Everyone chuckled but no one spoke up. Finally, Lily stood up and announced that it was time for her to go home. She had some homework to finish up before going to bed. Sirius and James decide to go home and look at the blueprints Sirius had been sent to choose from. He'd narrowed it down to two plans and he just couldn't decide between the fifteen bedroom Italianate mansion and the ten bedroom European manor.
George said that if the others were going to help out at the store the next day they'd need to be there early, so everyone else decided to make it an early night.
Harry and Hermione returned home and wandered upstairs. Harry asked Hermione if she wanted to sit in his room and talk for a little while.
"It feels like ages since we've sat down and talked, just the two of us," he said. She smiled and agreed to come back once she'd changed into her pyjamas.
A few minutes later she returned and jumped up onto his bed, curled up against the wall and grinned.
"So, what do you want to talk about?" she asked.
"Oh I don't know. Nothing much has really been going on recently, I can't imagine what I'd have to talk about," he replied sarcastically. They both laughed for a few minutes.
"Actually, I kind of wanted to talk to you about what's going on with you and your parents," Harry said cautiously. Hermione sighed.
"There's really not much to talk about," she said, staring at her hands as she picked at a hangnail.
"Hey, I know I haven't really been here for you the last couple weeks Hermione, but I'm…kind of worried about you," he said softly. "Talk to me. Please?"
She hesitated for a moment before heaving a giant sigh. "Alright," she began. "My parents basically gave me an ultimatum. I could move back in with them, leave the Wizarding world completely for a year and go to uni. Pretty much get to know them again and, in their words not mine, be a 'normal' person again," she spat bitterly. "Or they weren't going to bother with me anymore. It's essentially Muggle versus Magical, and I had to choose which was more important to me." She didn't say anything for a couple minutes. Harry wasn't sure what to say so he stayed silent as well.
"Obviously, I made my choice." She gave a weak laugh."I told them that…that I couldn't give up the Wizarding world. I couldn't leave my boyfriend or you or Ginny and just not talk to any of you for an entire year. They know that before Hogwarts I had no friends, I was teased and made fun of. I was miserable. But then I found you guys and…you're my best friends. I couldn't ask for anyone better." She wiped away a tear and sniffed.
"So that's what I told them. I can't walk away from the magical world. I won't." She took a shaky breath before continuing. "So they just told me to get out. If I was going to choose magic over my blood, then I could just go and not bother them anymore. So I did."
Harry waited until it was clear that she was done before nodding to himself.
"Hermione, it was wrong for your parents to make you choose like that. But…I don't think you should give up on them so easily."
"What am I supposed to do Harry? You saw them when we removed that memory spell. They were furious with me. Maybe leaving them was the right thing to do. It was painful, but the right choice. They were never fully comfortable with the idea of an entire world hidden like ours. They liked that I got good grades but I never really told them about our adventures or mishaps. They knew about you, Ron, and Ginny, and some of our other classmates but I never went into details of what we all did together other than studying and what classes were like. They had no idea about the war or the history behind our world, but every time they came to Diagon Alley with me, they'd see stuff they didn't really understand, like Sirius' wanted poster, and I never let them read the Prophet, ever," she finished.
"Did they ever ask to hear about school when you came home?" Harry asked suddenly.
"Well, yes. They constantly asked me for more stories the first few years I had come home. But after a while they would only ask for a few then they'd stop. But…I don't know...maybe that was when the war started to pick up and I didn't want them to know how involved we all were," she added with a frown.
"Hermione...are you okay with your choice? Happy?" Harry asked.
"No," she said immediately. They sat in silence for a few moments before Hermione blurted out, "My mum's pregnant."
Harry's eyes widened. "What?" he asked in surprise.
"I've only told this to Ron so far, but, the last day I saw them, my mum had told me that while they were in Australia they had decided to have a child. Before we removed the spell from them they didn't know anything about me, so they figured that it was time they had a child. After we removed the spell they kinda forgot about that little detail. At least, until a couple weeks ago, before mum went to the doctor. They'd had such a difficult time having me that they'd decided on just the one child, but now…" she trailed off.
"Well, Hermione, I was going to say this before, but now it kind of seals the deal for me. You need to go see them. Tell them you don't accept their ultimatum and you want another choice. Let them know you're going to finish your last year of Hogwarts and get your NEWTs. Besides, you can't go to uni without your GCSE exam scores anyway and you don't have those. Tell them you'll answer any questions they have about our world and our history. Maybe convince them that while you won't give the magical world up completely, you're willing to compromise. Let them know that you still love them and don't want to lose them," he said. She didn't say anything for several moments.
"I'm just…scared. What if I go back and tell them all that and they still reject me. They are having a new child and I'm am adult now. They don't really need me," she whispered. A lone tear fell down her cheek. Harry pulled her to him and hugged her tightly.
"You know that isn't true Hermione. If they love you like I think they love you, then you don't have to worry about that. They've spent eighteen years cherishing you, their only child. They can't just throw that away and replace you," he said quietly.
She silently cried into his shoulder while he rubbed her arm and waited. Finally, she lifted her head and smiled at him. "You're such an awesome friend Harry. I don't know what I'd do without you." She sat back up and leaned against the wall again.
"Hey, at least I've gotten better with crying girls," he said with a grin. She laughed and lightly punched his arm, making him wince. "Damn, I forgot to have Ginny rub that bruise lotion on me," he muttered.
Hermione laughed. "Well, you're on your own with that," she laughed. "Ron would kill both of us if he found out I rubbed lotion all over you."
"He wouldn't kill us if we explained it was only a medical salve. He would just maim us and run away for a while," Harry chuckled. Hermione laughed and punched his arm again shaking her head.
"That's not funny. You know how bad Ron would feel if he heard you joking about that?" she said.
"Oh, he'd get over it…eventually," Harry replied with a scoff.
The two spent the next couple hours talking about his parents, her parents, the Weasley family, school, his training, and other various topics until she started to fall asleep. He pushed her off the bed and on to the floor where she laid laughing until she cried. After that she got up and claimed, giggling uncontrollably, that sleep deprivation was getting to her and it was time for bed.
A.N: *screams loudly* OMG I'm done! With school that is. College graduate here, with a nice shiny new Bachelor's degree in hand! (Actually it hasn't come in the mail yet, but you catch my drift.) And I've spent the last several weeks working on perfecting this chapter for you all! Now this is actually a week late but I want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMY! We had to spend my mom's 54th birthday in the hospital, where she's been since December 6th (so she missed my graduating university, Christmas, and new year's too). She's getting close to getting her liver transplant I think. The doctor's confirmed that she won't be leaving the hospital before the transplant at least.
Thanks so much everyone! I am currently not working, though I hope to remedy that soon, so I've been working on the next chapter already and getting that one ready for beta soon as well. Hopefully I can post more than one chapter a month now that I've graduated!
PS: this chapter somehow ended up being exactly 10,000 words long (minus this beastly A.N.). Not quite sure how I did it lol.
Update: This chapter was originally posted in January 2013. My mom passed away earlier this month (March, 2013). I want to thank everyone who had sent well wishes and birthday greetings. Mom loved hearing them. I think she made all the nurses jealous actually. :) She passed away while waiting for a liver transplant at the age of 54 years. It might be a while before I am able to take up writing again. Mom was one of the few people in my life that pushed me in my writing. She always bragged to people about how many reviews and hits my stories got, even though I told her it was slightly embarrassing when I heard her gush about it. (embarrassing in a good way though, like awe shucks *blush* thanks for the attention, kind of embarrassing.) And she was always asking me why I can't publish my stories...I don't know how many times I explained copy right laws to her. lol It's going to be hard to keep writing, but rest assured, I'm not going to give up my HP stories. I have many plans for this, the prequel and a sequel eventually. (Just thought of the sequel idea last week actually.) I'm going to miss my mom and it's going to take some time for me and my family to grieve.
I will ask this. If you aren't an organ donor, I'd like to ask that you consider it. My mom might have been able to live another 15-25 years had there been more viable donors out there. By agreeing to be a donor when you die, you could save a life. Actually, if you're otherwise healthy and die from an anomaly, you could save quite a few lives...(they even use slightly unhealthy organs apparently as well.) From what I've seen, roughly 70 people a day get an organ transplant, but well over 6500 die everyday while waiting for one. I'm not sure if these statistics were from the USA for worldwide (I'm guessing just the USA) but that's a huge gap. I'm not saying do it, I'm asking that you consider it. Maybe do a little research to help you decide. Either way, this will be the last time I say anything like this on this site. I know how many people see my story. If I can even change one persons mind about this and they become a donor, I've possible helped save a life somewhere.
My family was lucky in that we were there all day to hold mom's hand and say our goodbyes. That has helped immensely in coming to terms with everything. Now it's time to look towards the future. Find a job. Start my Masters degree (next year I think). And slowly it will become easier. I will return to Surprise eventually. :) I love you all! I have some pretty awesome readers out there. :)
~ Heather, aka FirePhoenix