It shakes again. This time, the students expect it but it doesn't stop them from jumping back a little in surprise.
"Intriguing, isn't it?" Professor Remus says as he walks around the room in a slow steady pace. As he makes his way back to where he started, the mirrored wardrobe shifts once more, eliciting the same reaction from the students. He smiles a little before wiping it off quickly. "Would anyone like to guess as to what may be inside?"
"A boggart," Gwen answers almost automatically, causing a few to roll their eyes (mostly Slytherins, and maybe Ron).
"Very good, Miss Stacy. Can anyone tell me what a boggart looks like?" He asks.
"No one knows," Hermione, who totally came out of nowhere, answers.
Gwen squeaks and Ron says, "When did she get here?"
Hermione ignored them. "Boggarts are shape-shifters. They take the shape of whatever particular person fears the most. That's what make them so—"
"So terrifying, yes," Professor Lupin finishes as he stands in front of the room beside the wardrobe.
Huh, so that's why Peter's spider-senses keep tingling.
"Luckily, there is a simple charm that can repel a boggart." The wardrobe manages to inch forward, catching his attention for a second. He faces back at the class, noting everyone's quite fearful reaction at how the wardrobe keeps on shaking before saying, "Let's practice it now, but without wands for now, please. After me, riddikulus."
"Riddikulus!" The class says in misguided unison.
"Very good, but a little louder this time; very clear. Riddikulus."
"This class is ridiculous," Peter hears the brat, Malfoy, mumble from somewhere in the back of the room. Had he not been bitten by the radioactive spider, he would not have heard his voice in a sea of other voices, a fact that he is currently not thankful for.
"Very good," Professor Lupin praises his students. "So much for the easy part; the incantation alone is not enough. What really finishes a boggart is laughter. You need to force it to assume a shape that you find amusing. Let me explain, err..." His eyes quickly scan the room until he finds the perfect student. "Neville," he calls, "would you join me please?"
Neville's eyes widen. He looks around him. Maybe there's another student here named Neville as well?
"C'mon don't be shy."
No, unfortunately, he's the only Neville in the room. He nervously steps forward.
"Neville, what frightens you the most?"
It's a question he so dreaded because it's a question that's inevitable. He bows his head a little and mutters his fear under his breath.
"Professor Snape," he says louder. The tension in the room is temporarily out as the class laughs. It's funny because it's true: Professor Snape is a force to be reckoned with.
"He frightens us all," Professor Lupin says in agreement. "And I believe you live with your grandmother."
"Y-Yes, but I don't want that boggart to turn into her either!"
"No. It won't. I want you to picture her clothes. Only her clothes."
"She... carries a red handbag—"
"We don't need to hear it. As long as you see it, we'll see it. And when I open that wardrobe, here's what I want you to do." Professor Lupin advances towards Neville and whispers something only Peter can hear, "Imagine Professor Snape in your grandmother's clothes."
Okay, Peter takes it back. He likes his superhuman hearing. He cracks a smile and is unable to choke down his laughter, so he attempts to disguise it as a cough.
Unfortunately for him, Gwen, Harry, Ron, Seamus and Dean don't buy it.
"What?" Ron whispers.
Peter looks red faced as he just shakes his head as he pays attention at what is about to unfold.
Professor Lupin whips out his wand and counts to three. At three, the door slowly opens and reveals Professor Snape emerging from it, even though everyone is aware it isn't actually Professor Snape. Just a boggart.
Everyone except Neville, that is.
Neville just stands there paralyzed with his wand ready. He doesn't know what to do. His mind goes onto lockdown as he thinks what Professor Snape might say to him next, or worse.
"Just think, Neville," Professor Lupin reminds him. "Think."
He does his best to think. He thinks of his grandmother's awful clothes, and Professor Snape wearing them. He tries to hold onto the image as he points his wand at Professor Snape and yells, "riddikulus!"
The result is instantaneous. Professor Snape's dark robes quickly shift to Mrs. Longbottom's bizarre clothing. The entire class burst into laughter, staring at the fact that Professor Snape is in a dress and heels.
"Yes!" Professor Lupin cheers. "Okay, to the back, Neville. Everyone form a line!"
They don't need to be told twice about it. The students eagerly squeeze into a single-file line. They aren't happy to have their fears seen, or rather have themselves see what they fear, but to have a joyous and hilarious twist on it.
Ron quickly makes his way to the front, feeling quite proud of it. Behind him are Padma, Gwen, Peter, Harry and Hermione. Peter and Harry glance at each other, giving each other reassuring smiles even though they both know how terrified the other is.
Peter and Harry aren't best friends, but they share a dorm and a friendship that runs deeper than most people realize because of the somewhat mutual past they both had to endure.
They both look away and back at the boggart when it takes the shape of Ron's fear: a giant spider.
Peter wanted to laugh and snort, but he manages to tame the urge in spite of himself.
Ron can remember it, the memory coming forth when he hugged his teddy bear, only to see a giant spider in its place. He squeaks out the charm at the tarantula inching its way to him, but still manages to think of anything funny. Skates appear on the spider's feet, causing it to slip and fall. Ron's nerves are still there, but he warrants it funny enough to laugh. Professor Lupin praises Ron as he goes to the back of the line, high-fiving his friends as he did.
Padma is up and her chuckles die down when the boggart takes the form she fears: a giant cobra snake.
It's Harry's turn not to laugh.
The snake hisses and eggs on Padma. The fangs are really not distracting to her, not at all. But before the snake is able to strike at her, she gathers up just enough courage to raise her wand and shout, "riddikulus!"
The snake disappears immediately, and a giant jack-in-the-box replaces it. The class laughs harder, but seriously, people. Is Peter the only who thinks the clown is creepier than the snake? One quick glance at Harry and he knows he isn't the only one.
Gwen is up next. Before she steps forward, Peter quickly kisses her head before Professor Lupin could catch him. Gwen returns the favor and playfully slaps his chest. She takes a breath as she takes a cautious step forward. As the clown looks more and more terrifying to Gwen now, the boggart begins to reform and before she knows it, Dr. Connors' lizard self appears in front of her.
Some students scream, others step back. Even Professor Lupin himself is speechless.
It's not him, she reminds herself. But it's hard to convince herself that when Dr. Connors is staring down at her with those eyes... It's like being trapped in Oscorp again.
"Wand at the ready, Gwen. Wand at the ready," Professor Lupin reminds her.
She exhales deeply. Dr. Connors is back in New York. I'm not thirteen anymore. He's not here.
She can't think of anything funny. Instead she thinks of something positive, raises her wand, stares into those eyes and says with wavering confidence, "riddikulus."
The boggart shifts from a reptile to regular Dr. Connors. Dr. Connors just gives her a gentle smile.
It's not really him though.
"What the bloody hell was that?" Ron says from behind the room.
Gwen ignores the comment, Peter's expression and everyone else's reaction as she holds her head high and walks to the back of the class. The class isn't laughing anymore. They're either staring at Gwen or at the one-armed man the boggart shifted into.
Peter swallows hard, both at the image of Dr. Connors before him and at the discovery of what his fear could manifest into. He doesn't know what his primary fear is. He has hundreds of them since he decided to masquerade as Spider-Man in London and back in New York.
He slowly makes his way to where Gwen stood. Everyone watches silently. Professor Lupin quietly walks towards the students, closer to Harry, as he watches Peter with a hawk's eye. Both Gwen and Peter grew up together in New York, so it may be possible for them to have the same fear of a strange mutated humanoid lizard.
Dr. Connors warm smile melts away and a scowl replaces it before the boggart shifts into what is it Peter fears the most.
It's not three seconds later before his dad appears in front of him. His suit is in pieces, his faceplate is missing, and he's all bloody and bruised
Peter can't say anything. His throat tightens and his eyes sting at the sight of his father like this... again.
"I'm so sorry, bud," His dad says as he keeps his bloodshot eyes on him. "We couldn't save him."
He shrinks back, feeling like the little kid he was when he found out his Pop had been assassinated just because of his parents' lame fight about the superhero registration. He can vaguely hear someone remind him that it's not real.
How can it be not real?
"Your Pop's gone, Pete."
Peter tries to blink the tears away, but instead of them retreating, they come running down his cheeks. Traitor tears...
It was months before he could accept the fact that he, Dad and the rest of the world lost Captain America. And then two years after Pop died, he just... came back to life or something. He never really bothered to ask how because he was so mad at Pop for dying. He can feel the grief, the anger, the relief and everything else he felt in the span of two years bubbling up within him.
He can't help it. He can feel his chest constrict and it's getting harder to breathe. Is the room spinning?
His dad drops to his knees and onto the floor.
No. He can't lose two fathers in one day for the second time. He can feel his heart beat faster. As his eyes refocus, instead of his dad, he can see Harry's bespectacled face before his.
"Peter, It's not real!"
It was, Harry.
The last thing he hears is the stern voice of Professor Lupin saying, "riddikulus!"
"Just ignore him, Peter."
"Hey, Parker! Can't believe you actually fainted in class!"
"Leave me alone, Malfoy."
"And you cried like a little girl! You're even weaker than Potter! Oh well, that's what you get for being friends with him!"
"He said leave him alone."
"Or what, Stacy? You're gonna hex me? That's if you can actually do the spell right this time!"
Gwen can't help herself. She pulls her fist back and it connects with Malfoy's jaw. He recoils as he backs into his friends, tenderly holding his now throbbing jaw.
"L-Let's get out of here!"
"My father will hear about this!"
"That what, Malfoy? You got punched by a filthy little mudblood?"
"Did you just—"
"I know what I said, Peter. Now let's go."
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