Written for the QLFC, Season 6, Round One.

Position: Keeper

Position Prompt: Write a magical creature you've never written before

Title: Can of Flobberworms

Word Count: 2,500

Beta(s): CUtopia, Aya Diefair, DinoDina (Thank you!)

Go Wanderers!

"It's a physical pain, Padfoot," James Potter whispered; he was splitting Flobberworms to add to their Draft of Daring.

Sirius Black stood over the cauldron, a wooden spoon in one hand, and his copy of Advanced Potion Making in the other.

"Add the worms once the potion turns grey, boys and girls, we all know idle hands do the devil's work, well, nothing like boredom to inject a bit of wild into us, no?" Slughorn called from the top of the class. "Flobberworms are creatures classified as one X, boring. This makes them useful ingredients to bring out a witch or wizard's impulsive side."

James groaned in discomfort.

"Maybe it's gas?" Sirius suggested, the quill he held between his teeth distorting his words.

"Don't be a tosser," James grumbled, and he cast his hazel eyes across the classroom to take in the subject of his ire. His gut twisted when he found Lily Evans giggling just a few paces away. Laughing with him. "That slimy git."

James split the last of the dried Flobberworms with particular panache and handed the lot to Sirius. Severus Snape worked alongside Lily; he was hardly smiling and yet she threw her head back laughing at some quiet comment he made like he was Merlin himself. What could she possibly see in that greasy snake?

"Ah, mate," Sirius sighed, clapping a hand on his friend's shoulder as he dropped the final ingredients into the bubbling concoction. "She'll come to her senses eventually. I mean seriously, next to that glorified sentient bag of pus, you look like the Minister for Magic. If she were spending her time with someone more like me maybe you'd have something to worry about, but there's no accounting for taste…"

"There really isn't. What is it about him that makes him so much more appealing to Evans than someone like me?"

"'Someone like you', here meaning you, I take it?" Sirius grinned. "It's a mystery, she's been subject to years of the ballsack's brainwashing, though. It's the same as the way you've been wearing her down for years. Even you've made a dent. Snivellus has been softening her up since she was born or whatever. You can't fault a man for that kind of preparation. The early toerag gets the gingernut, as they say."

James scoffed. "You know it's just occurred to me that in the case of you, I'm the gingernut. I must be mad to put up with you."

"Ah, but you're stuck with me now, see? Got you while you were young and fresh. Here, why don't you take your shot at Evans for the day. This should pluck you up." Sirius held the wooden spoon aloft with a drop of the sky blue Draft of Daring on the end.

Inexplicably, swallowing the potion struck James as an excellent idea,

"What on earth happened to you?" Remus Lupin asked when James entered the Common Room several hours later. "I haven't been able to track you down all evening, but if any of the accounts I've heard have been reliable, you may be old and grey by the time you get out of detention. And how you intend to make up the forty-seven house points you've managed to lose in a day, I have no idea."

"Oh, give it a rest young prefect of the forest!" James boomed; all that was left of his uniform was his shirt — which was undone — and his scarlett boxers covered in snitches.

"You'd be wise to listen to your friend, Mr. Potter," a familiar voice, which had Remus sitting straighter in his seat, warned. Minerva McGonagall apparently had had a hand in haranguing James back to the tower. She emerged through the portrait hole behind him, wand aloft.

"Professor!" Remus exclaimed.

"Mr. Lupin, I'd be grateful if you could find way to get Potter to bed, it seems that after a sip of Daring Draft, he promptly dared himself to drink as much as he could. He nearly choked on a half dissolved Flobberworm and vomited on poor Ms. Evans during a misguided marriage proposal."

"She said yes, though!" James protested, beating his chest in triumph.

"No she bloody didn't. Please Lupin, I'm not fit for a term in Azkaban at my age, but it's going to be a close thing if this child isn't removed from my sight."

Remus stood and rushed over.

"Child?!" James protested, his thumb finding the waistband of his boxers, "I'm a man!"

"Alright..." Remus clapped one hand over James's mouth and the other on his wandering wrist. "Thank you, Professor. I promise to do my best."

"Worst comes to worst, you have my permission to throw him into the fireplace."

Remus stifled a laugh as McGonagall straightened her robes and corrected a few hairs which had strayed from her bun.

"I suppose if you get a chance you could throw some floo powder in first… send him down to Professor Slughorn. Horace should know better then to leave him and Black to their own devices with that dreadful potion. We're still struggling to liberate Mr. Snape from the chandelier in the atrium."

It was a far from peaceful process getting James to bed, but eventually, with some binding charms and some artful levitation, he was secured in his four-poster.

James was amused when his friends went to sleep feeling comfortable in the knowledge that he wasn't going anywhere. They all seemed to sleep deeply after the excitement of James's behaviour followed by the fifteen-or-so minutes Remus and Peter Pettigrew had dedicated to whacking Sirius with a rolled up Daily Prophet for causing the whole catastrophe while he shouted at them for being a pair of Muggles.

When everything was still, the room's occupants' light snoring was violently interrupted by the loud tearing of James' bonds as he ambitiously became a stag in the middle of the dorm.

"Oh, for the love of—" one of the boys cried, but James was off. Crashing through the dorm room door, out and down the hall. He pranced down the stairs in two leaps and up the to the girls dorm in three. At the top, safe from his pursuers, he was a boy— a man — once more.

Once he'd made it, he grinned. Even without his Invisibility Cloak he felt like he was untouchable. Undetectable.

"I'm a master of subterfuge!" he announced out loud, and opened the first door in reach, wanting to make the most of his successful siege.

By some miracle he reminded himself to be a little quieter, and then in an instant he spotted what had the potential to be the Holy Grail itself.

First he saw her, lips pink as petals, hair red as a phoenix flame, but just beside her a leather bound book. Could it be?

He picked up what he was sure would be her diary and opened it to read in the dim light. His grunt of frustration joined the soft sounds of sleep surrounding him as the darkness proved to be too thick. Quickly, he stepped out into the hall — where several torches were still lit — and opened the journal to a marked page.

He read:

I understand that the bastard was under the influence, but I couldn't care less. Blimey what a ruddy tosser! I don't even want to write these words, I want to ask Sev to obliviate me in the morning. Potter UGH actually vomited on me in Potions today! That brute is going to ruin my life! There is something seriously wrong with him. I hope I never have to be around someone like that, someone so impulsive and loud and arrogant and just… such a big-headed toe-rag. Sev is such a calming influence by comparison, sometimes being in Gryffindor house as someone introverted can be so tiring. A girl needs some peace and quiet now and then. Maybe even some dull company. Just… whatever the opposite of Potter is.

The only person I've ever seen making word vomit and actual vomit at once. Gross. At this point I'm close to saying: give me boredom or give me death. Just once. I'll kiss the next witch or wizard to bore me to sleep. Professor Binns has never looked more like marriage material. Oh Merlin there's Flobberworm in my hair

"What's gotten into him?" Peter asked as the Gryffindors made their was down to Care of Magical Creatures early the next morning.

Sirius and Remus shared a look as James forged ahead, his eyes downcast.

"He's on a comedown, Wormy," Sirius said. "You'd know what that was if you were any fun, you ruddy lump."

"What's that supposed to mean?" James asked, suddenly pulled from his stupor. "Are you saying that I can't be subdued unless I'm hungover from some mad stunt?" James glanced sidelong at Lily. "Sometimes a person just gets tired of all the noise you lot cause, alright? Maybe I just need a break."

Lily did in fact glance over at this and James's friends were quiet for a moment in response.

Until the three of them fell apart laughing as one.

James frowned as Lily turned away.

"Us?!" Remus asked, incredulous. "The three blokes who spent the morning casting ten Reparos each on the dormitory door you obliterated last night."

"We need to get you a mirror big enough to include your whole head mate, because you're overdue a long hard look at yourself," Sirius added, wiping away a tear.

"Shove off," James grumbled, redoubling his pace, his jaw set.

"For the next week, you will each be required to care for a creature, write up your results, etc. It's not dissimilar to last year's Spring project. This year, however, you will be allowed to care for creatures of a three X classification if you so choose. On Friday, we'll have our first round of presentations."

There was a murmur of excitement at this, being the Gryffindor class, it was widely accepted that most of the students would be taking advantage of this opportunity to select a more dangerous option then the year previous.

James himself had already set his heart on a Demiguise for this project, aware that the creatures were due to be bumped up to four X classification anyday.

His classmates began to make their requests, choosing challenging and interesting options.

Lily quickly selected an Ashwinder, as Sirius requested a Billywig, already having thoroughly laid plans to 'jab Snape in the arse with it.'

"Mr. Potter," Kettleburn asked, "what'll it be?"

And for some reason James hesitated, and then it hit him like a tonne of bricks and he grinned.

"Professor, I've been thinking, and I've decided I want to focus on Flobberworms."

By late that evening, there was a cage waiting in the entrance hall to be collected by each of the Care of Magical Creatures students in James's year.

Creatures of all sorts of colours and sizes presenting all different sorts of challenges were carried off or wheeled away until at last James reached the professor. Kettleburn had a scar running from the side of his nose over his mouth to the bottom of his chin, and it pulled oddly on his mouth when he gave James a wry smile.

"You sure about this, Potter?" Kettleburn asked, pulling a small jar from his pocket, there were several air holes stabbed in the cap and two Flobberworms resting near motionless at the bottom. "Most of the other students have taken a can of Flobberworms as well. You know, to feed their creatures of choice?"

Lily's words returned to James as if he'd heard them spoken aloud and not just seen them in her diary: I'll kiss the next witch or wizard to bore me to sleep.

"I'm sure," James said, and took the jar. Ladies' choice. "Unless you have anything less interesting?"

Kettleburn looked surprised for a beat and then chuckled. "I might have a dead Flobberworm in my office somewhere, Potter, but honestly even at the best of times it can be hard to detect any signs of life from these bad boys. You sure know how to pick'em."

James looked over at Lily as she fussed over the instructions for her Ashwinder eggs. "I certainly do," he replied, utterly convinced that the Flobberworms were on course to increase his sex appeal ten-fold.

Over the next week James made sweet love to the cause of the Flobberworms, he read every piece of literature he could find on it. Most of this research involved reading countless paragraphs on what might make a good non-toxic snack for much more interesting creatures. Flobberworms were the suggested food, even for Flobberworms.. He brought the jar of Flobberworms with him everywhere, talked to them, told them his worries.

They made good sturdy companions, they were always there, working hard as a foil to bounce jokes about Snape against.

"How did you get out, you slippery, oily, brainless little worm?" James asked Snape now and then.

"Still running low on new material, Potter?"

"Oh, Snivellus! So sorry, once more I mistook you for Snivellus Junior! Fortunately, he's still right here in his jar trying to eat Snivellus Senior."

"Strong words coming from a man who nearly died choking on a Flobberworm only two days ago."

James gasped, pulling his jar close to his chest. "Don't listen to your brother, my little Snivellii. He's confused. He knows not what he does."

One of the worms flopped soundlessly to the left.

"Are you pleased now, you wretch! You've upset them!"

James's turn to do his presentation was on Monday, which was ideal since Monday was definitely on theme for his parade of dullness.

He started with absolutely no gusto whatsoever. He knew his audience well and his plan was to take them places they'd hoped never to go; new unfound realms of boredom. It was made a lot easier by the previous presentations being completely enthralling.

James made sure to speak at length, at great length.

The length of the Flobberworm in inches, in hands, in fractions of a yard. The width of the Flobberworm in inches, in hands, in fractions of a yard. The colour of the Flobberworm at the time of hatching, light brown. At the time of adolescence, light brown. In adulthood, brown. There was so much to say.

And ten minutes in, James saw it. Lily Evans, who at the beginning of his talk had looked inexplicably alert and interested, probably because as much as he loved her she was a diehard nerd, her eyelids were looking heavy. Maybe she had been interested because she was curious why he, of all people, had made the decision to cover Flobberworms of all things. But something in this intriguing thought must have injected some passion into James's voice because Lily perked up, so he promptly continued:

"Flobberworms like stillness, dullness or low light, and generally unstimulating environments. As unstimulating as possible, their soul is brown, or maybe grey according to some divination experts. Here is a memo from Professor Trelawney on the subject of the aura of Flobberworms..." With that he had lulled her back into a fugue state.

He wasn't going to stop until he'd gotten the result he'd come for.

Lily's head hit the desk with a bang as she lost consciousness and she jerked back awake with a gasp. James was staring at her, eyes wide at the interruption.

She blinked, cleared her throat, and apologised.

"Sorry," she mumbled, wiping possible drool from her lip.

"It's alright," James muttered. Christ she felt so relaxed, she watched James continue his overwhelmingly monotonous presentation. She frowned. He'd never seemed more attractive.