PG-13, 2000 words
Marauders gen, with some special guests
Summary: Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs would like to put their new creation to the test.
Notes: For trowicia! A somewhat belated birthday present. ♥
"Ow – fuck, Wormtail, would you stop that?"
"Do you want me to breathe?"
"If it involves you jabbing your elbows into me every five seconds, then no!"
"Sirius, keep your hands inside the Cloak! I can see them!"
"I would if there was room, and someone wasn't trying to spike me to death with their ridiculously sharp joints."
"Shut up!" James lit his wand suddenly, staring around at the three of them. "All of you, just shut up," he hissed. "Now then. Map, Padfoot?"
"All clear on this floor," Sirius murmured, awkwardly hoisting the parchment in front of his nose, to the not inconsiderable protestations of Peter. "Filch is miles away, Mrs Norris is up back at the Tower."
"Right then. Where to, good friends?"
"Kitchens?" Peter asked hopefully.
James spluttered. "That's what you want to do on this glorious night, the night we've been waiting for for years? Are you a Marauder or not?"
"Actually…" Remus began thoughtfully. "I wouldn't say no to a sandwich myself."
"C'mon, Prongs," Peter chivvied, "just a bit of food to set us up!"
"Oh all right," James snapped, "come on then."
They traipsed through the halls, on a path so familiar they forgot it was the dead of night, with Remus and Sirius quickly resuming normal conversational volume, happily discussing last week's Quidditch match. It pained James to interrupt any talk of Quidditch, whatever the time of the day, but their thoughtlessness pained him more, and without a word he Silencioed them both.
"Mmmph!" Sirius said indignantly. "Rrrgh!"
"I'm sorry?" James asked sweetly, to an ensuing glare from Remus.
Peter laughed, but very quietly indeed.
By the time the time they got to the kitchens, even the house-elves were asleep, mostly. Gilly, the oldest elf in Hogwarts, was dozing by the fireplace when they came in – she made sleepy movements to get up, but with an appeasing handwave from Sirius she soon drifted off back into sleep.
Peter and Remus rummaged through the cupboards, while Sirius and James poured over the Map, both enthralled by the possibilities underneath their fingertips.
"I said Filch knew about that passage…" Sirius murmured, "Look, see, there goes Mrs Norris."
"Bugger," James replied emphatically. "Catch us using that again, then." After a moment, he added "You know, there really are an awful lot of people up and about for the time of night."
"Gosh, I do believe you're right!" Sirius turned to James, innocent and wide-eyed. "What on earth should we do about it?"
James pulled a face of deep contemplation. "I just don't know. Turn them into the proper authorities, probably. Although… it appears the proper authorities themselves are on the move." He prodded at a dot labelled 'Professor McGonagall', which speeded up almost in response.
"Interesting, Prongs old chap, very interesting."
"What's interesting?" Remus asked in between mouthfuls, as he and Peter returned.
"Come have a look!"
The four of them gathered around the Map, and there was an impromptu awed silence for a moment.
"Every time, I am astounded by our own brilliance," said Remus.
"Quite so, quite so," agreed James. "Now then, you will note the following – darling Snivellus appears wide awake – in the unreachable fathoms of the Slytherin dungeons for now, but we shall observe his every move closely, in case he decides to break for more slime-free areas."
"Right then," Sirius said, stealing the last of Remus' sandwich, "high time we were getting out of here. Onwards and upwards!"
They fumbled around with James' Cloak again, managing to get it mostly draped over themselves, with a lot of very close proximity to each other and subsequent shuffling. They eventually managed to strike up a rhythm, and began to make better progress around the hallways.
James couldn't help himself laughing softly, delighted and not a little giddy at their own endeavour. It was hardly as though they had never dared to traverse the school at night before, but suddenly they had infinite power.
"Graham Hutchinson, two hundred feet and approaching," Sirius whispered.
They snuck into an alcove, watching him. He wandered towards them, glassy-eyed and muttering. "Sleep walker," James decided.
Sirius made to walk towards him, but Peter grabbed him back with a hiss. "You should never wake a sleep walker!"
"Nonsense!" Sirius replied, before shrugging off the Cloak and approaching Hutchinson. He moved around him slowly, before waggling his hands in front of Hutchinson's eyes and laughing. He looped around again, before clapping his hands firmly on his shoulders and, in an uncanny impression of McGonagall, said, "What do you think you're doing wandering the halls at this time of night?"
Hutchinson yelped, back rigid and eyes suddenly wide and very, very awake. By the time he turned around, Sirius had retreated back under the Cloak, the four of them shaking with silent laughter. He looked around wildly, first for any sign of McGonagall, and then at the walls around him, clearly exceedingly confused.
They moved on. There was stillness for a long time, the Map showing all other people to be very far away. Peter started humming tunelessly to himself, ignorant of the other three's collective glares. At one point Sirius crowed, pointing the movement of Frank and Alice along the corridor containing the Room of Requirement, until they suddenly vanished.
"Come on, come on, find something!" James said after a while.
"All right, give me a sec," Sirius replied indignantly, continuing to peer at the Map. "Aha!"
James' eyes widened in delight. "Ah. Snivellus."
Sirius bent in for a closer look. "Based on our respective trajectories, if we head in that direction, we can get there in about five minutes."
"Prongs…" Remus began half-heartedly.
"Ah, save it – listen, he shouldn't even be up at this time of night."
"Well, neither should we."
James just winked. "Let's go."
They raced onwards, the adrenaline of no sleep and high sugar intake beginning to kick in. The Cloak flapped somewhere around their shins, often, but with nothing and no one to catch them as far as Sirius could see, they paid no heed.
"Ssh!" Sirius came to an abrupt halt, causing Peter to smash into him from the side.
"Ow!" Peter protested, earning nothing but a glare.
Nearby, they heard footsteps. Snape appeared, face in shadow. James slightly parted the Cloak, and sent a few sparks up and over Snape's right shoulder, causing him to whip around in a tight circle, wand clutched. Sirius reached into his robes and extracted one of Dr. Filibuster's finest fireworks, proceeding to throw it some distance down the corridor. It went off with a loud crack!, shooting fountains of blue sparks to shower down within a two feet circle and playing a tinkling tune.
Snape stared, then backed away from the noise. James struggled to suppress a snigger, then Peter stared to move.
"What are you –" James started, but Peter just grinned.
A few moments later, he was shrinking rapidly, and a rat darted out the bottom of the Cloak. The other three looked at each other, eyes glinting in the pale light from the firework.
Peter scuttled towards Snape, who was too busy looking around for the perpetrators until he suddenly clapped a hand to his mouth, and clutched at his leg. High-pitched squealing was emerging from his trouser leg, and he started to wave his leg frantically, attempting to shake the rat out. Wide-eyed and looking panicky, Snape collapsed into the wall, hands swatting at his leg vainly while the squealing continued unabated.
James was biting on a sizeable chunk of his robes attempting to restrain himself from laughing, while Sirius had doubled over, clutching onto Remus, who was looking distinctly amused.
The squealing cut out, there was silence for a moment, and then Snape shrieked in pain. The rat appeared out from his trousers again and ran away, slipping back under the Cloak and rapidly turning back into Peter, who was shaking and almost helpless with laughter.
Sirius waved a hand around feebly and pointed at the Map, where the dotted labelled 'Filch' was making very swift progress in their direction. They started to head off, finding walking more difficult than ever, while in the background Snape had lost all sense of time and place, yelling, "Potter! Black! I know you're there somewhere!" whilst moving his arms wildly in circles around him.
When they were a safe distance away, James threw off the Cloak, gasping for air. Peter's eyes shone with triumph, and Sirius slapped him on the back so hard he nearly choked.
"That was brilliant!" Sirius beamed.
Remus smirked slightly. "So, what's it like getting in Snape's trousers, eh?"
Peter looked at him aghast. "Vile, actually. He's slimy all over, it's not right."
James shuddered. "Taking one for the team, good man."
Peter grinned again. "Anything for the cause."
"And just what do you think you're doing?"
James, Peter, and Remus stared at Sirius, but his mouth was hanging open in horror looking over their shoulders. They turned around.
Professor McGonagall was standing there, wisps of hair straying out of her bun but looking sterner than ever.
"Er –" Remus began, "Professor. We were, we were just – Peter's not feeling very well and we were taking him to the Hospital Wing…"
"Via an unrelated part of the school, I see."
"Well, yes, but –" Remus looked around at his friends for help, but they were all mute. Peter was doing a rather good impression of grave sickness, however. "We were trying to find Madam Pomfrey, she's not up there…"
"And you thought the Charms classrooms would be the ideal place to start looking. Mr Lupin, your attempts to cover up for your friends are, as ever, commendable but entirely unconvincing.
Remus fell silent. As if on cue, James and Sirius both struck up their most charming smiles, but McGonagall was immovable. "I shall see each of you in detention at ten o'clock tomorrow morning, and if you are entirely punctual I may deduct no more than ten house points each."
James opened his mouth in protest, but fell silent again after a nudge from Remus. McGonagall turned and swept imperiously back towards Gryffindor, the four of them trailing meekly after her. She watched as they climbed back through the portrait hole a few minutes later, arms folded and lips pursed. It was only after the Fat Lady, with much grumbling, closed again that a small smile twitched on her lips.
Peter sighed dramatically as they reached the dormitory, flumping onto his bed. "I was only in detention two weeks ago," he noted sadly.
"Could have been worse," Remus said bracingly, "not like last time where I thought she was going to hex Sirius."
"She'd never dare," Sirius replied with a smirk, "who'd want to ruin this charming face."
James punched him companionably, then grinned. "Entirely worth it, though, right?"
Sirius nodded vigorously, pulling out the Map. "Must remember to actually keep our eye on this next time."
"Snape's face!" James said with a sudden burst of laughter. "Wormtail, you can have all my cake for a week."
Peter smiled. "Wasn't bad, was it?"
"Not bad at all." James reached over and took the Map from Sirius. "Yes, I'd say that was mischief managed."
The Map furled back in on itself, bursts of writing appearing then vanishing away. Remus frowned at it, noting down the slight glitch, but James just batted him away. "No need to pay attention to anything of that sort tonight."
"Let us revel in our glory!" Sirius declared. "Think I've still got a bit of something stashed away."
"Oh…" James yawned suddenly. "Yes, yes, we should really – hang on, I've just to go get something –"
James disappeared behind his curtains, and Sirius rolled his eyes at Remus. "The snores will begin in five minutes, man has no stamina!"
"Actually," Peter said hesitantly, "I'm knackered myself, think I'm going to turn in."
"Oh, honestly! You'll keep me company, won't you, Remus?"
Remus smiled indulgently. "Go on then, make it worth my while."
Sirius pulled out a couple of bottles from underneath his bed and shoved them into the middle of the floor. Remus took the slightly less luminous one and uncorked it. "To marauders, and mischief, and the Map."
Sirius grinned, chinking Remus' bottle with his own. "I'll drink to that."