“Watch out on the left, Potter!”

“Up above you now!”

“Holy Merlin, you guys!” A young James Potter hollered between breaths as he dodged nearly thirty rocks. “I’m a Seeker, not a Beater!”

“Which is why we don’t practice with Bludgers,” Sirius announced. He was charming another handful of pebbles as he spoke.

“Yes, Sirius, but the general job of the Seeker is to catch the Snitch. Thus, there should only be one rock and it should be flying away from me.“

Sirius pouted as James dove towards the ground. Charms practice was always helpful for him, as the four boys had Charms after History of Magic. Because of this, Sirius would usually be refining the pranks he had thought up during History of Magic while he was supposed to be learning Reversal Charms.

“Sirius Thomas Black! De-charm these bloody rocks!” James flew as fast as his broom would take him towards the nearest goalpost. To Sirius’ amusement, the enchanted pebbles followed James, looking very much like a long grey veil as they wove through the hoops.

Ulephreus!” A husky voice behind Sirius broke through his thoughts with a sharp blow. The rocks plummeted clumsily towards the ground.

“You’re no fun, Remus,” he muttered as he brushed past his friend and towards the castle.

Remus Lupin watched the black haired boy march off towards the castle. He knew very well that Sirius’ mouth was set in a determined line, and his dark brown eyes would be bouncing with thoughts of pure, innocent revenge. Sirius was like that – always planning how he could trick somebody one way, or the other.

James pulled his broom up next to his friend. “You’d think at his age he’d be a bit more patient with his friends.”

A smaller boy with mousy blonde hair peeked out from behind Remus. A normal passer-by wouldn’t have noticed him, but both Remus and James knew he was there, as he usually cowered behind one of the taller three boys. He sneered after Sirius before commenting; “You’d think he’d put his friends above his pranks.”

Both James and Remus shot the boy an icy glare, which he failed to return. James took the comment as a personal insult. “I wouldn’t trade Sirius in for all the galleons in the world. And you know very well all the times he’s saved your hide from being expelled.”

Peter Pettigrew sneered at James in a very Slytherin-like manner for a few moments. James failed to notice this; he was already gone chasing after Sirius on his broom. Remus watched him go.

“You, Peter, should learn to watch your tongue,” Remus said. He picked his bag up off the grass and ran after his friends.

Peter stood alone, watching Remus and James leave him for his rival. Sirius Black belonged in Slytherin. He was a disgrace to the name of Black. All of his family had been in Slytherin. The Blacks were known for their reputation with You-Know-Who. He sighed; feeling defeated, he slowly followed the rest towards the castle.

About two-thirds of the way back to the castle, Sirius stopped dead in his tracks. His mouth curled up from the grim line that Remus had predicted, but his eyes still shone with a pranksterish gleam. “Well, well, well, look at what we have here.”

James brought his broom to a halt next to his friend. “Hello, Snivellus.”

A greasy haired boy backed slowly towards the castle, not wishing for any trouble if it could be avoided. Sirius advanced on him, leaving James hovering where he had been. Remus, now standing beside James, watched disapprovingly. James put a hand in front of him to signal that this was Sirius’ skirmish. If Sirius wanted to get into detention, it was his own choice.

“How are you feeling today, Snivelly? Your hair doesn’t quite have its usual shine.”

Peter snickered, having just come into hearing range. Sirius took a couple more steps toward the other boy, who looked up at Sirius with a glare of pure hatred. These two had been archenemies since they set eyes on each other, nearly seven years ago.

The greasy haired boy reached for his wand, but Sirius was faster. In less than a second, Sirius held both wands. The other boy attempted to swing a punch at the Gryffindor; he had no other choice without his wand. The only other option was to flee, and he wasn’t going to run from Sirius Black. Not this time. Not if he had other options.

Sirius caught the Slytherin’s fist in his hand, his strength quickly overpowering it. The other boy fell on the ground and quickly pulled himself away from the towering figure of Sirius. Sirius laughed.

“Running away, Snivellus? Fine, you may run away with this fine new gift to show your friends. Grehaeril!

A booger colored green flowed from the roots of the boy’s hair. The color then spread to cover all of his hair. It appeared as if he blew his greasy nose all over his hair so many times that the color had just stayed. He sneered at Sirius, then stood up before retreating.

Sirius chuckled and turned towards his friends. Peter was smirking, James was grinning, and Remus looked at him in such a way that almost made him regret what he had done. But only almost.

“That was bloody brilliant!” James ran up to him clapped him on the back. “I wouldn’t have thought of that color!”

Sirius grinned and immediately forgot any regrets he once had about his harmless prank. He bowed mockingly. “I know, I know.”

Sirius and James walked the last third of the way to the castle exchanging thought of future pranks on Severus Snape. Remus trudged back with Peter, deep in thought. If Sirius didn’t drop this pranking business soon, chances were that he might not graduate Hogwarts. In your seventh and final year, the teachers watch your behavior very carefully. Their evaluation counted for nearly thirty percent of your final NEWT scores. At this rate, Sirius wasn’t possibly going to get any higher then an eighty or ninety on any of his NEWTs. Luckily, the school year had only just begun.

James and Sirius reached the doors before the other two, so they waited. Remus and Peter arrived quickly, knowing their friends were waiting for them. Then, James pulled the heavy door open. The grin that was spread across his face quickly washed away.

Sirius peered around James, and saw why he had frozen. Sirius grinned. “Well, look! We have a welcoming committee!”

Three Slytherin boys towered inside the castle. The one in the middle was tallest, with fair blonde hair and a trademark sneer. The other two boys looked similar to eachother, both with strength to crush a griffin’s head with a single blow, and neither to be messed with.

“Not so much a ‘welcoming committee’ as you’d like to think, Black.” The middle boy took a step forward, revealing the greasy haired Severus Snape that hid behind him.

“Ah, I see,” Sirius said; he took a step up so that he stood next to James. “Nice to see you, but I have earlier planned engagements and I don’t have time to talk.”

The other two boys took a step forward, creating a wall between Sirius and the interior of the castle. Sirius rolled his eyes and sighed obviously.

“Alright, Malfoy, what do you want? This is all ridiculous, really.”

“As you very well know, Mister Black, in these dark times we don’t take kindly to troublemakers,” Lucius Malfoy brushed a loose strand of white blonde hair out of his face before continuing. “As a prefect, it is my job to stop such people.”

At the word ‘prefect’, Remus cowered a little, ashamed by his disregard for the rules. James showed no change in expression. Peter looked between the two of them, shaking his head. Lucius continued.

“I have heard a report from a very reliable source that you and your,” Lucius peered over Sirius’ shoulder to look at Remus, Peter, and James, “minions – if you believe they deserve a title even that high – have been disturbing the peace that we all work so hard to keep here at Hogwarts.”

Sirius straightened up, his eyes narrow. “What peace, Malfoy? You and your bodyguards and spies are the only ones that seem to dig up any trouble at all.”

“Watch your tongue, Black,” he spat. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to deduct thirty points from Gryffindor for each of you. That leaves Gryffindor with,” he looked at his parchment and smirked. “Well, fancy that. It leaves Gryffindor with no points at all.”

Sirius glared at Lucius with a look of hate so extreme, the ocean would not have been deep enough to harness it. “You don’t have the power to deduct more then ten points total, Death Eater.”

Any color that had been in Lucius’ face left it immediately, leaving him looking as if he were a ghost. He quickly regained his composure and continued. “Unfortunately for you, I do,” he cleared his throat and pulled out an aged looking piece of parchment. “It reads here, I, Professor William Crow, give permission to my prefects to deduct up to thirty points per troublemaker and assign detentions.

Sirius ripped the paper out of Lucius’ hand and skimmed it over quickly before throwing it back at him. “Get out of my way, Lucius Malfoy, or I will rip you into a million pieces and feed you to a flobberworm.”

Lucius snapped his fingers and the other two boys stepped back, leaving Sirius just enough room to slip past them. “Professor Crow will be expecting you all after dinner tonight in the trophy room.”

Sirius stopped in his tracks. He was grinning, but one wouldn’t be able to tell from the tone of his voice. “Are you giving us detentions, Malfoy?”

“Of course. Why else would you be caught dead in the trophy room?” Lucius folded the piece of parchment and put back into his robes. “Oh, and Black?”

“I haven’t gone anywhere, you bloody idiot.”

“Don’t be late.” Lucius spun around and headed back towards Slytherin Tower. Toren Crabbe and Frederic Goyle grunted before following.

James, Remus, and Peter ran over to Sirius; he stormed off before they reached him and left the three standing in silence.

“What’s his problem?” Peter asked, showing less innocence then he intended.

“He doesn’t have one. He’s just putting on a show,” James said, and then ran off to catch his best friend.

Peter snorted. “For whom? Hufflepuff cheerleaders?”

Remus raised an eyebrow towards the blonde. “Cheerleaders?”

Peter rolled his eyes and walked off.

* * * * *

“You know, Lucius doesn’t realize it, but he just made my day,” Sirius announced as he fell back in to a big red chair by the fire in the Gryffindor Common Room.

“And how’s that?” James muttered half-heartedly. He tapped his quill restlessly on his partially covered parchment, trying to figure out how he was supposed to fill another five inches of it. Fifteen inches of ‘Describe the eating habits and migration patterns of the Swedish Blue Snout dragon’ was over-doing it on Professor Grubbly-Plank’s part.

“Detentions on the third day back,” Sirius said, smirking. “That’s got to be a record of some sort!”

James shrugged and continued to think. “If you insist, Sirius.”

Sirius chuckled. “And he gave us trophy room detentions, too. He doesn’t know how many little finishing touches I’ve added to that room.”

“He only gave you that because Crow never gives you trophy room detentions.”

“I wonder why not?”

James slammed his Care of Magical Creatures book shut. “Honestly, Sirius. He’s not completely dense. Otherwise he wouldn’t be Potions Master.”

“What? What did I do?” Sirius attempted to plaster an innocent look on his face, but failed miserably. He went with the puppy-dog look instead, as it came much more naturally.

“I think you remember perfectly well,” James announced. He opened his Care of Magical Creatures book again and winced. Some of the ink on his essay had smudged, making his already fairly poor handwriting nearly impossible to read.

Sirius grinned, but asked again, “Come now, James. Enlighten me.”

James rolled his eyes. “If you can’t keep quiet, I’ll go to my dorm so I can finish this homework.”

Sirius looked at the floor as if trying to create the impression that he was upset. James wasn’t fooled. “You know every prank you’ve pulled since you were five years old, if not earlier. You wouldn’t forget which particular trophies have been jinxed.”

As James finished, Sirius raised his head and grinned innocently at him. James rolled his eyes. “Sirius, pranks are fun, but they can get out of hand some times.”

As soon as he finished his sentence, James dropped his quill as a bust of pain surged from the tip of his middle finger, down past his wrist, and then faded. Sirius gave him an odd look, but James shook his head in confusion and reached for his quill.

“Are you alright, mate?” Sirius asked.

James nodded slowly. “Yes…I think so. That was odd….”

James stared at his hand for a moment before he began to scan through his book once more. The sudden pain in his wrist was uncalled for, and he would’ve liked nothing better then to know the cause of the pain. Sighing, he lifted his quill and began to write.

Sirius watched him for a moment before returning his gaze to the crackling fire. All thoughts of James’ sudden ailment disappeared as the grandfather clock in the common room stroked four. Sirius grinned into the fire, thoughts of revenge blowing through his thoughts like a gentle wind. He began counting down the precious hours until his detention began.

* * * * *

Sirius stretched and cracked his knuckles as soon as he knew Professor Crow was out of hearing range. Remus scowled at him, not enjoying the emphasized noise any more then he had during any of the other thousands of detentions he had shared with Sirius. Peter and James ignored them both, knowing it would be of no use to attempt to sway the others’ opinions.

Sirius picked up the trophy he had just begun shining and threw it up in the air as boredom overtook him. He scanned the small room, searching for an ideal target. He grinned as he spotted one.

“Hey, Wormy!” he whispered loudly. “Catch!”

With that, he tossed the bronze colored cup towards the smallest boy, a hint of amusement nearly hidden by his grim expression. Sirius grinned as Peter caught the cup. Peter scowled.

“Quit it, Sirius,” he sneered, and went to throw the cup back. Despite Peter’s bad aim, Sirius ducked. The cup hit the wall and brown goop oozed out from inside of it. Peter looked down at his hands and scowled.

“That wasn’t funny,” he announced, looking for a place to wipe the goop off. He eventually settled on his robes, seeing no other alternative. The cup remained in its corner, nearly covered in the jelly-like substance.

Sirius merely chuckled. Peter, being as gullible as he was, often posed as a perfect target for Sirius’ on the spur of the moment pranks. This was not to Peter’s preference.

With the prank completed and the others now more closely watching him, Sirius took six trophies off the shelf. He carefully set them up, ignoring Remus’ watchful eye. Peter scooted about a foot to his left, afraid that Sirius was going to trick him again. James sighed irritably.

“You know that Professor Crow could be back any minute, correct?”

“Yeah, I do,” Sirius mumbled, balancing his sixth cup at the top of his pyramid.

“Then what, in Merlin’s name, are you doing?”

“Bowling.”

That word cut through James like an iced sword. In his first or second year – he couldn’t remember which – Lily Evans had once told him of a Muggle game called ‘bowling’. She had explained to him the rules and taught him how to play it. Now, Lily and he had not spoken unless it was by order of a teacher. Lily had gone her way, and James his. He didn’t even see her in the halls anymore. He shook his head stubbornly.

Sirius watched James’ reaction to the word. He had never really understood the idea of the Muggle game of bowling, but he knew that it affected James greatly. His thoughts were confirmed as James’ face flushed three different shades of crimson before returning to its natural color.

Peter tilted his head a bit as he watched the two friends. Finally confused, he asked, “What’s bowling?”

Remus muttered a few things under his breath, but didn’t repeat them more audibly. James cleared his throat before responding, “You should know, Peter. You were friends with us in our first two years, weren’t you?”

Peter returned the comment with a blank stare. James bit his tongue, mentally cursing Peter’s poor memory.

“It’s just a Muggle sport,” he said and returned to the golden trophy he was polishing. It was his own trophy, commemorating his excellence in Quidditch.

This answer was not enough to quench Peter’s curiosity. “Is it like Quidditch?”

“Not really,” James replied again as Sirius opened his mouth to speak. He knew that if Sirius were to say anything – anything at all – it would not be a very friendly response for James’ pride.

“Oh,” said Peter, now understanding that he was not going to get any more information out of his friends.

Sirius sensed Peter’s discouragement. “I can tell you more about bowling.”

Peter’s eyes lit up like a young child’s. Since he took Muggle Studies, any additional information about Muggles was appreciated and enjoyed. James sneered at Sirius in a very Slytherin-like manner, hoping that Sirius would not continue.

Sirius looked at James. He knew that James didn’t want to be embarrassed by fantasies from his first year. However, it wasn’t going to hurt James too much if he said just a few words about the event, nearly six years ago.

“See how I set up those trophies?” Sirius asked Peter. Peter nodded slowly, so Sirius continued. “You have an unenchanted ball, about the size of a Bludger, and you hold by three holes that Muggles drill into it -” Sirius held his hand just so it would look like he was holding an invisible bowling ball “- and you roll it down an isle.”

As he finished, Sirius pretended to roll the invisible ball towards his pyramid of trophies. Peter watched, unimpressed.

“Unenchanted? Well, that’s no fun,” he announced.

James sighed, relieved that Sirius hadn’t said more. He watched cautiously as Sirius searched around the room for something to use as his ‘bowling ball’. Eventually, he found a small, old barrel in the corner. It was covered with cobwebs, but that didn’t bother Sirius. He pulled it out of the corner and laid it down on its side about three meters away from his target. James rolled his eyes.

“Sirius, you are a disgrace to Muggle sports,” he said.

“And you could do better?” Sirius sneered jokingly in James direction. Then, slowly, he turned pale as footsteps echoed from down the hallway.

“Quick!” Remus grabbed the barrel and threw it back into the corner. Sirius spun around quickly and lurched towards the trophies. They clattered loudly as he landed on top of them, knocking them all to the floor beneath him. Sirius moaned in pain.

“Sirius Black!” A tall, cold man walked in to the room and stared down at the four boys. His tone suggested punishment no matter the tone, although it was usually icy. His hair was long and black, and was usually, like today, pulled back into a ponytail.

Sirius looked back up at the Slytherin Head of House. Their stares were locked in an equally icy, merciless gaze. Sirius was one of the few students that were not intimidated by the cruel professor. James watched the two with mild amusement until Professor Crow spoke again.

“What are you doing.” It was not a question, but a demand for an answer.

“I am sitting here, serving my detention,” Sirius answered in a monotone. He looked bored.

“Why are you sitting on these precious, dear trophies.” Again, a demand rather than a question.

Peter snorted at the reference to the trophies being dear and precious, while most of their achievers had died many years ago. Even after that, most of the awards were stupid things, such as “Most Thorough Vampire Essay Ever Written” and “Handling Doxies Cautiously and Saving Professor”. The professor turned his glare to Peter.

“Would you like to say something, Mister Pettigrew?” Professor Crow asked.

“N..n..no, Sir,” Peter stuttered.

Professor Crow swooped over to Peter, never losing eye contact. “Then, I suggest that you focus your attention on shining these trophies.”

“Y..y..yes, Sir,” he muttered, picking up his trophy and shining it vigorously. The professor nodded.

“I don’t believe you answered my question, Mister Black,” the Professor said, tapping his foot impatiently.

“You asked me a question, Professor?” he responded, hiding a smirk.

“Yes, I did, you ignorant slimeball,” Crow spat back.

“Would you be so kind as to repeat it? I must have missed it.”

“I’m sure you did.”

“Please, Professor.”

“Very well. Why are you sitting on my precious trophies?”

“With all due respect, Professor, these trophies aren’t yours.”

“Answer the question, Mister Black.”

“Well, you see,” Sirius started slowly, clearly pondering a response, “they just kind of…appeared…if you catch my drift.”

“They ‘appeared’?” The professor repeated, unbelievingly.

“Yes. Very good. They appeared all over the floor. There were many more of them, see. Peter, Remus, James, and I, we were killing them.”

“Killing trophies?”

“Yes. Killing trophies. Horrid things, really. It hurts quite a bit when they bite.”

“They bite?”

“Of course! How else would they defend themselves? All the same, we were blasting them with fire from our wands. James even got burnt a bit, but Remus fixed him up.”

“Fire from your wands?”

“Naturally. We considered blasting them with ice, but we figured that they would make a mess when they melted.”

“Now, do tell, why would these ‘rabid, attack trophies’ come here, of all places, and when I was gone?”

“Well, as you can see, this is a trophy room. Maybe they thought they could blend in.”

“That doesn’t explain why they waited to come until I left.”

“Perhaps they are frightened of you. After all, they got really quiet when you came back. See?” Sirius held up a trophy as if to prove his point.

Crow rubbed his temples as if he had a headache. “That will be quite enough for tonight, boys.”

All four boys stood up in unison. Professor Crow stepped aside so that they could leave. “Mister Black!” he called after them.

“Yes, Professor?” Sirius called back mockingly.

“You will report to my office tomorrow night for another detention!”

“Yes, Professor! Of course, Professor!” Sirius bowed.

Professor Crow sighed irritably, his headache slowly growing worse. He swooped down to pick up the trophies the boys had left lying on the floor. One more year, he thought to himself. One more year, and I’ll never have to see Sirius Black again.

The thought comforted him as he gently put the trophies back on their respective shelves. Then he spun around and left the room with as much flair as he had entered it.

* * * * *

“That was an awesome story!” Peter squealed once they were out of the professor’s hearing range.

“You should write fiction,” agreed James.

“You should read my homework essays,” Sirius responded, grinning ear to ear.

Remus scowled. He had read Sirius’ essays many times, and most of them ended up with the subject being burnt to death or sold into Muggle slavery. “You should be worried about your grades at this point in life,” he pointed out.

“I am worried,” he assured Remus. “But as long as I have S’s or higher, I’m not that worried.”

Remus rolled his eyes. Sirius always goofed around on his homework, but the only professors that seemed to mark him down for it were McGonagall and Binns.

“Anyway,” Sirius started, “we’ve got a whole hour until midnight. What do you all propose we do?”

“Homework,” Remus snapped immediately, knowing Sirius had none of his done.

“Quidditch,” answered James.

“Uh-uh,” said Peter. “Too dark.”

“How about…say, I don’t know…perhaps a few harmless pranks?” Sirius asked, a maraudous gleam in his eye.

James grinned back. “Mate, you’re on!”

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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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