Tricks That Once Fooled Me

He is like fire, burning through time
As old as forever, but fast in his prime
I saw his blue spaceship materialise
He stepped out and said to me, "run for your life!"

Chameleon Circuit – An Awful Lot of Running to Do

Their plan was fool proof; they would attack at breakfast, which was the only time of day when James was too busy eating to take notice of anything else. Though he spent the rest of the day eating as well, he was generally more switched on after breakfast and it would be much more difficult to slip away and even more so to return unnoticed. Surprisingly, it hadn't been that hard to get hold of the potions after all – by subtly bribing two or three very clever fifth year Ravenclaws with a couple of galleons each, and egging them along with an encouraging wink from Sirius, the potions had been ready within an hour. Supplemented by a Confusing Concoction snagged from the store cupboard by Sirius, the potent mixture of a Babbling Beverage and a hastily mixed Befuddlement Draught would have the desired effect and more.

Sirius eyed the small vial worriedly, jiggling it about in the palm of his hand with a look of doubt. "Do you think we put enough in?" He frowned, before shoving the crystal vial deep within the recesses of his schoolbag. "Do you think it will work?" Ariana shrugged, catching hold of his sleeve and dragging Sirius away from the foot of the marble staircase in order to hide behind the statue of the Architect of Hogwarts. Quickly approaching footsteps echoed all around the Entrance Hall, as late students rushed to get their seats before breakfast began; Ari held her breath tensely for a moment, as they passed unknowingly.

"Should do-" she muttered lowly "Just enough for a good couple of hours of sheer unadulterated mayhem!" She cracked a grin, before sneaking a glance at James as he elbowed his way past seventh years, fourth years and even some tiny first years just to get to the bacon first. Remus glanced up and caught her eye, before scowling and looking away quickly. He was evidently in a bad mood.

Sirius nodded, taking it in, before smiling thoughtfully and passing her the vial "Here, you should do it…"

"No! It's your revenge prank – you have to do it, otherwise what's the point?" She protested quietly, shoving the vial back into his hands with some force. Sirius looked surprised.

"Well, if you do it, he'll never suspect you!"

"He wouldn't suspect me anyway – I'm way too nice!"

Sirius barked out a laugh and stowed the potion away up one of his sleeves. He cast a furtive glance around the Entrance Hall, checking there was nobody hidden away in the shadows. "You've got me there!" He agreed, before adding. "By the way, this idea? Genius! We'll make a Marauder of you yet…" He announced proudly, ruffling her hair obnoxiously before darting away into the Great Hall.

"Oh and Ari'?" Sirius's head popped back around the doorway "I wouldn't say you were too nice – you're too conniving for that to go down convincingly!" He winked at her, and dashed off into the Great Hall, roaring with laughter as Ariana raced after him, cursing heavily.

As they approached the Gryffindor table, Sirius veered towards James before tripping over his schoolbag and blundering into the table. A cry went up all around them, as students bemoaned the mess he had made. One girl's bowl of cornflakes landed straight in her lap and she cried out with shock. As Sirius righted James's goblet of Pumpkin Juice and graciously poured him some more, a shadow fell over the table. Professor McGonagall stood looming over the four friends, eyeing them with a mixture of suspicion and distaste. "Black," she barked out, frowning disapprovingly "What is going on here?"

Sirius grinned, unabashed "Nothing, Professor McGonagall. I just tripped over-"

"Enough," she interrupted calmly, letting her gaze swoop over the four students; two of which were desperately trying to avoid making eye contact, a third still engrossed in his breakfast and the fourth, staring dreamily off into the distance and seeming blissfully unaware of the tense situation, complete with sniggering pupils. "See that it doesn't happen again, or I will be forced to deduct points from all four of you." Watching her remark sink in, she turned back to the staff table, pointedly ignoring the exclamations of anger from the groups of students on both sides of Sirius.

Ariana sat pointedly avoiding eye contact with Sirius and contented herself with serving herself from the stack of sausages opposite, before counting down under her breath.

"In 5, 4, 3… 2 and…1!"

James seemed unbothered as both Sirius and Ariana eyed him suspiciously, before all emotion drained from his face without warning. They watched him earnestly, their eyes glinting as they held back smirks of barely contained laughter. His eyes slid out of focus slowly, then reverted back to normal consciousness for a second.

James' eyebrows quirked suddenly. "What have you two done to me?" He asked in a suddenly suspicious voice, before his eyes rapidly slid back into the out of focus state seemingly caused by the doubled effects of the Confusing Concoction mixed with the Befuddlement Draught.

Ari looked across the table at Sirius and winked. "Stage 1 is in effect." She stage-whispered, before adding, "The Babbling Beverage should start to kick in right about… now."

"Why are the chickens dancing?" James suddenly blurted out. "I can see them – right there! Look!" He jumped to his feet, sending the table lurching sideways again, but luckily no one noticed. "Maybe it's because of that dream? Yeah, that seems about right! It's always to do with those Cornish Pixies! We should ask Hagrid. He'll know what to do." His face twitched once more, as if he was no longer able to control himself. Suddenly, he swept his bag up off of the floor and waltzed out of the Great Hall without a moment's notice. Sirius snorted with laughter and hefted his own bag up onto his shoulder, before darting along after him. Ariana followed behind, eagerly awaiting more pearls of wisdom from the suitably bewildered James Potter. That would teach him!