Chapter 7: The organizer
The letter that made its way to his bookbag was simple.
It is time. Meet me at lunchtime in the tapestry corridor.
The corridor was just a few steps away and it seemed like his heart banged louder, the closer he got. What if it was a trap? It would've been a sweet prank to fool an HPC member that the results were about to be announced, to allow him to get his hopes up and crush them in the worst possible way. He wished he had come up with something that clever.
But the handwriting looked the same as the invitation letter and so he took the chance. As much as he loved being in this Club, he was ready to reach the finish line.
To his delight, after the eventful breakfast, the number on his badge went up to thirty-two and he figured that he got a point not only for pranking McGonagall but also for each student that fell for it.
He owed this success to his friends. Peter voted for using worms, James suggested to make it public, and they wouldn't have been able to pull it off as smoothly without Sirius' excellent handwriting which matched their Professor's. With their help, Remus put the plan together and executed it within hours.
He looked down at his badge with pride. He had a chance to win this competition. Maybe today he would be given the last task, or maybe the winner would be announced, whichever it was, he was ready.
His heart was still pounding but his thoughts were clearer when he reached the corridor.
The dark silhouette leaning against the wall straightened up upon seeing him. It was a tall teenage girl who did not waste time on greetings.
"You're on time. Excellent. Follow me."
She pulled a floor-length tapestry aside and disappeared behind it. He ran after her into a secret tunnel which led to a small chamber, which was mostly empty but for a couple of chairs and a table in the middle, on top of which was a notebook bound with a leather strap.
While the room was stone-gray and the only light source was a torch hung by the entrance, it did not feel cold like the rest of the castle. He was intrigued by the hint of chamomile lingering in the air and wondered if it came from the wicker basket left to gather cobwebs in the corner.
"Is anyone else coming?"
"Peeves eliminated several members," the girl said and blew her wild red hair off her face, "McGonagall caught a few and you weeded out the rest with your earthworm joke. It's one for the books, by the way, but it bothers me that you didn't work alone."
Remus swung on his feet. "There was nothing in the rules against working together."
She smirked and put a hand on her hip. "Indeed, there wasn't."
She looked familiar. He might have seen her in the Gryffindor Common Room. This reminded him of one of the many questions he had.
"Were all members Gryffindors?"
"All but Peeves. I added him to increase the challenge and weed out those unsuited for the prize."
"So, you're the one that organized it?"
He looked around the room, the most important question hanging in the air.
"So, who won?"
Her raucous laughter could match men winning at poker. "You, who else?"
Remus' heart skipped a beat, the hope inside getting ready to burst. This seemed too good to be true. "What was the point of it? What's the catch?"
She made a few calculated, long strides and stopped behind the table.
"The catch is that being the Prank King is a responsibility. Do you really want the title?"
Remus approached the table and eyed the mysterious book. "I don't want it announced to everyone if that's what you're asking."
"You may keep it to yourself but if you really want the prize," she put both hands around the book seductively, "you have to accept the temptation that will come with it. I have watched you, Remus, and I'm impressed with your stealth and discretion. You know how to keep a secret, don't you?"
She raised an arched eyebrow at him and he smiled gently, trying to not reveal that his hands were getting sweaty. "I can."
She pushed the book towards him an inch and let go of it. "It's yours if you want it."
He was tempted to grab it and run away to study it but wanted to know what he was getting into.
"What's in it?"
"Spells and magical practices not taught at Hogwarts. How to discover secrets, break through protections, methods of concealment and all sorts of trickery. It's a magical pranking jackpot, Remus."
"Why are you parting with it?"
"My prank days have concluded. I have learned all I can from this book. I wish to become a Curse-Breaker, you know? It's time to pass the baton to the next generation and focus on my studies instead."
Remus opened the book and traced the hand-written notes, having a hard time accepting a gift this valuable. He wanted it but for much more than just pranking. "Thank you, uh... I don't know your name."
She shook his hand firmly and held it.
"Patricia Rakepick. I'll see you around, Remus. Do me proud, Your Majesty," she added with a wink.
She disappeared into the dark entrance, leaving Remus with the book and the promise of the fun years to come. It was only the beginning.
The boys had a bounce in their step as they made their way to McGonagall's class to hear what their extra homework was.
James twirled a wand between his fingers. "Do you think we'll ever learn who won?"
Remus grinned. "Maybe one day."
"Well, we'll just have to outprank the winner."
Sirius finished his thought. "Or hold our own competition."
"So what's our next prank?" Peter asked, his hands by his chin, fingertips tapping each other.
"Just don't cook any potions," James said immediately.
"I'm actually good at Potions. Professor Slughorn said that he would've been impressed if my invention had worked exactly as I intended. As it didn't, I have detentions for the rest of the year, but still, he was impressed."
James' eyes were scorching. "I wasn't impressed."
Peter bit on his bottom lip. "Sorry. Again…"
James rolled his eyes. "Whatever. You got me, Short-Stuff. I have to give you props for that. I didn't see it coming at all."
Sirius hung onto both of their shoulders. "Feel free to prank him again."
Peter smiled earnestly for the first time since the incident and looked up at James with puppy eyes, waiting for absolution. James pulled his head into an arm-lock and rubbed his short hair violently.
"Just try! I dare you."
Peter giggled and did not struggle as the assault continued.
"Let's just stick to pranking others." Remus freed the boy before James pulled all his hair out.
He was starting to understand the responsibility Patricia talked about. He had to learn how to reign in his friends. Armed with the expert knowledge and capable of causing serious magical mayhem, things could quickly get out of control. Someone had to be the voice of reason and he did not mind filling the role.
They took up most of the hallway as they fell into an even stride, walking side by side, though Peter with his short legs had to catch up from time to time.
They didn't have a name for their group yet but it wouldn't stop them from making one for themselves. For now, they were a band of pranksters, unknowingly led by the newly crowned Prank King.
A/N: Ah, can you believe it? We've reached the end. How did you like Remus, the Prank King?
I always appreciate reviews, good or bad, give it to me. I live off of them.
If you can't get enough of Remus, I wrote another story about him - The Beast of Knockturn Alley. You will also find him in The New Order of Merlin Book 2: Cursed - coming soon.
Thank you for reading.