Actions, even desperately stupid ones, have consequences.
… hence, this sequel to "Stuck" (storyid=638499) and "Stuck in the Muddle with You" (storyid=65445.)
The characters and places are not our doing, with the exception of Professors Keele and Woodwalker, here on holiday from one of Jinx's tales. The vignette is, as usual, the fault of our overactive imaginations (an entire gallon of Haagen Daz has consequences – especially when eaten with chocolate chip cookies. )
Please don't sue us, we spent all our money on chocolate chip cookies.
~v~Jinx~v~ and rabbit
Friday, which had begun bright and early with the disastrous footstools-into-sheep Transfigurations exam, had gone downhill from there… with all the dreadful grace and relentless force of an avalanche.
Bad enough that the entire class of Fourth Year Slytherins and Gryffindors (except for Malfoy, Snape, and Black, who failed to see any humor in the display) had laughed themselves sick over the recorded events of the sheep paddock… but then McGonagall had shown the recording to the Fourth Year Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, who had also found it hilarious. And she had proceeded, throughout the day, to show it to the classes of Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh years. Every group had delighted in the presentation; evidently it had been decades since the sheep-stealing plan had gone so spectacularly awry, and the fact that the fiasco had involved Malfoy and Potter's interminably skirmishing gangs…together… was just too delicious to be ignored.
And it hadn't been.
The "Baa"ing in the corridors had started just after Transfigurations, and then trailed the wrongdoers throughout the day. Even the First, Second, and Third Years had gotten into the act.
Martin Weasley and his rowdy bunch had kept finding opportunities to race past one group or the other, shouting, "Dragon! Run for your lives – but mind the footstools!"
Someone charmed Lupin's cape all woolly, which he seemed to find very funny indeed, lowering at Lily Evans and intoning, "I'm really a wolf, you know!"
Somebody hexed a woolly tail onto Pettigrew, who hurried red-faced to the hospital wing to have it removed.
A footstool tap-danced into their afternoon Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Malfoy spent the rest of the session tormenting the thing under his desk, leaving a pile of splinters behind when they were released to go to supper.
When the sheep thieves entered the Great Hall at dinnertime, the baaing was deafening. One wit (probably Martin Weasley) had found a sheep bell and was clanging it with enthusiasm.
The Gryffindor miscreants grinned and capered like fools, accepting the mockery as if it were thunderous applause; even Pettigrew, now sans tail, got into the act and looked pleased with all the attention. The Slytherins went to their places with determined dignity.
Someone had put little sheep dolls on their seats.
Lucius Malfoy snatched up one offending toy and pointedly ripped its head off as a warning to the rest of the table. Mud and grass geysered up from the sheep's severed body, covering Malfoy and his lieutenants Crabbe and Goyle. Snape, who had been trailing sullenly behind, was merely spattered.
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the stars of the sheep paddock!" roared Titus Maingauche, from among the Sixth Years. "Thought you looked familiar!"
Malfoy, muscles working in his jaw, charmed himself clean and cast the wretched doll under the table, where with any luck the cats would tear it apart.
Crabbe and Goyle knocked the dolls on their seats under the table too, where they exploded, calling for another round of cleaning spells. Snape levitated his over in front of Titus, who took it calmly and bounced it off the wall to show that it hadn't been loaded. The disgraced foursome took their seats beneath the general merriment. There still seemed to be a lot of noise over at the Gryffindor table – probably their idea of witty repartee, for it culminated in Remus Lupin hopping up onto the table and shouting, "All right, all right, please! We can't be any more sheepish about all this!"
For some insipid reason the Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables applauded. And some of the younger Slytherins.
Up at the Head Table, Professor Woodwalker tapped his glass for silence. "It's good to see you all so cheerful on a Friday evening," he greeted the student body, in his warm, rolling lilt that blended the Caribbean with the North Country. "I've trust you've all had a pleasant day, and are looking forward to the trip into Hogsmeade tomorrow."
Beneath the general cheering, the apprehended wrongdoers scowled at one another; they had detention tomorrow, seven o'clock sharp and expected to last all day.
Woodwalker droned on interminably, citing the usual caveats and last minute assignment changes, before finally turning to the center of the table, "Would you like to do the honors, Professor Dumbledore?"
"Indeed," the Headmaster smiled, eyes twinkling, and summoned dinner.
It was lamb chops.
Eight heads ducked beneath the wave of howling laughter that rolled through the hall. Even the teachers were laughing. McGonagall had to wipe tears from her eyes as she caught sight of the mortified sheep rustlers.
"You know," muttered Snape through clenched teeth, arms folded, staring fixedly at his boots, "I really am not hungry. I think I will go to bed."
"You're going to walk out of here, right now, all alone?" murmured Malfoy, cheeks burning.
Snape shrugged. "Why not? I've done it before." James Potter and his crew had an uncanny knack of making things go horribly wrong at dinnertime on Fridays.
"Actually," Gavin Goyle said in muffled tones of encouragement, "they're quite tasty!"
"We stay together," commanded Malfoy, watching his duller lieutenants munching on lamb chops. "Stay put, Sev. If you walk out, you'll only miss dinner as well."
Grumbling, Snape complied, tearing angrily into a chop.
At least the chops were very good.
"What do you suppose we'll have for detention this time?" asked Crabbe, after a while.
"Something closely supervised," Snape said at once, "seeing as it's us and Potter's gang together." He scowled and speared a pile of green beans with particular viciousness.
"Something messy, I'll bet," Crabbe offered. "Make us show up in our best robes and then have us get all mucky." It was a safe bet. Since Dumbledore wouldn't let Filch hang students by their thumbs anymore, most of the detentions had involved some kind of demeaning physical labor.
Lucius looked down the table to where Narcissa Beauregard and her girlfriends were Pointedly Ignoring Those Who Got Caught. He sighed and pushed mint jelly about his plate. "You don't think they can make us repair the sheep paddock, do you?"
"No need," Snape told him. "I saw Woodwalker and his greenhouse groupies out there this afternoon."
"Good old Huffies, always there to clean up the mess," sighed Lucius. "So… what… you don't think he'd actually send us into the Forbidden Forest, do you?" he ventured, gray eyes gleaming like a falcon's as he looked to Snape.
"Nice try," Snape returned drily. "Luke, you've been hauled out of there eleven times! You're personally barred from going within fifty yards of the Forbidden Forest! No one, for any reason, is going to let you go in there and nose about!"
"Pity… those were brilliant excursions," reflected Malfoy, sipping his pumpkin juice.
"All right for you," Snape grumbled. "I didn't wake up for two weeks after the last little holiday jaunt you took us on in there…"
"I told you to dodge left, Sev," Malfoy returned easily.
"Yes, and you meant your left –"
"True!" snapped Snape. "No I do not think we are bound to venture into the Forbidden Forest. Or anywhere that they can't keep an eye on us and the Gryffindors. It'll probably be something tedious, humiliating and --"
"Oh, no! Not bedpans again," Crabbe groaned.
Lucius impaled a bit of lamb with his fork. "Probably."
Goyle looked glum. "All right for you, Luke," he sighed, "you got out of it last time."
"Can I help it if my father called me home suddenly?" Lucius looked angelic as he recounted, "Family emergency, simply dreadful business, cousin Lucrecia was frightfully ill… "
The others cut their eyes disbelievingly at him. Lucius switched from angelic to martyred in a blink. "… and, yet, incredibly, when I came back to school, I still had to shelve books in the library for hours!"
"That would be nice," sighed Snape, resting his chin in his hand and idly eating green beans. "Unfortunately, given the infractions of which we're guilty, we'll be lucky to only be cleaning the bedpans. It'd be more like the entire hospital wing." He shrugged unhappily, resigned to his fate. "We've been caught out of bed, out of our dorm, out of the castle, which implicates us for roaming the halls at night… vandalism to the paddock…"
"That was the sheep's doing!" said Lucius angrily.
"Not without our help," Snape said. "And then of course there's unauthorized and unsupervised use of magic, our only saving graces there being that we were on school grounds and we were attempting to complete an assignment… Let me see," he mused, sitting back to thoughtfully tick off transgressions on his fingers. "Oh, yes, flying without permission or supervision, fighting whilst airborne, fighting in general with blood drawn during the fray… all of which contributes to conduct unbecoming Hogwarts students… and of course there's always failing to obtain proper authorization to bring animals other than familiars into the school."
Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle were staring at him.
"Isn't that enough to get us expelled?" Goyle asked hesitantly.
"Not with Luke's dad on the Friends of Hogwarts Committee," Crabbe reassured him. "I think we've outdone ourselves, gentlemen!" He raised his glass in a toast, which was matched by no one.
Malfoy cast a baleful, calculating gaze at Snape. "Wretched little rule-minder, aren't you?" he sneered. "You'd be an absolute martinet as a professor. Can't wait to see you as a Prefect next year." He scowled wryly. "We'll be sick of your voice in two weeks flat."
"Well, actually…" Goyle began, and was silenced by a glare from Snape.
"So, do you think they'll expell the Marauders?" asked Crabbe in an excited undertone.
Malfoy snorted. "No such luck. With all the events recorded for posterity, they can't expell them without expelling us… and that's never going to happen."
Crabbe looked disappointed, then shrugged and returned to his meal, cleaning his plate just in time for dessert to appear.
Fluffy balls of meringue baked into sheep shapes came gamboling down the table, pursued by a very elegant marzipan dragon.
Beneath the sea of laughter, the transgressors took out their aggressions on the sweet beasts, dismembering the sheep and carving ruthlessly into the dragon's tail.