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Not Your Heroes

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"Do you fancy some ice cream, sweetie? Or how about we have a look around the pet shop? You've always wanted a cat!"

Sam gave a jerk of the head that might have been an affirmative, biting her tongue hard enough to taste blood as she fought to keep the scathing response from escaping.

Mr and Mrs Granger were driving her insane, hovering over her shoulder, not letting her out of their sight, asking question after question until Sam was ready to tear her hair out. If she heard 'are you alright, sweetie?' one more time she was going to murder the couple in their sleep.

The only thing stopping her from losing it on them was that she really couldn't blame them. From their perspective their sweet eleven year old daughter woke up one day with a new vocabulary full of words that couldn't be spoken in polite company and an attitude that made feral animals seem approachable in comparison. But Sam didn't want to be Hermione Granger any more than Hermione's parents wanted someone like Sam for a daughter.

The first day, Sam had been in absolute denial. She'd been convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that this whole thing was the result of falling asleep in front of the television after twelve cups of coffee and an ungodly amount of sugar, but when she opened her eyes to the same unfamiliar ceiling she'd fallen asleep staring at the next morning she'd rolled over and screamed into the pillow until her lungs felt like they were going to give out.

The next few days had been more of the same, trying to rationalize everything as a dream or a coma or someone spiking her with acid. Anything. But when she woke up in the same body staring up at the same ceiling a week later she finally admitted to herself that this was real, and she was going to have to live out her new life as a fictional character in a world she'd read stories about when she was actually the age of the body she'd hijacked.

She was twenty three, almost twenty four. She had a shitty flat in the arse-end of London and a job that barely paid the rent, she'd been born in 1995 and had grown up in the 21st century, with iPhones and WiFi and the Internet at her fingertips.

Now she was eleven, a pale and buck-toothed girl with hair that had defeated every brush she'd taken to it. She hadn't even realized whose body she'd taken over until Mrs Granger shouted "Hermione!" up the stairs while Sam had been staring at her reflection in numb disbelief, which was further confirmed when the couple started talking about how exciting it was that she was a witch over breakfast.

Emma Watson she was not.

Trying to rationalize her presence here was headache inducing, and that was only the beginning of her problems. She'd been a fan of the books and the films when she was younger; she'd grown up with the books and watched the films as they were released, but that had been years ago. She could only remember the bare bones of the plot and she wasn't sure which events happened in which film - or, more accurately, which book, because she clearly wasn't in the film adaptation.

Hermione Granger had gone from a fictional character to a very much alive person to the body Sam hijacked.

She didn't like to think about that last one too often.

Some people might think this was a dream come true, living in a magical world of their favourite fantasy books.

Sam didn't.

Fuck the Wizarding World and the broomstick it rode in on.

Her attitude had been so foul that the Grangers had decided a trip to Diagon Alley would cheer her up, and Sam had to admit that it had brightened her mood considerably. But the Grangers wouldn't shut up and the joy of the whole thing was dampened by her companions.

"Oh, the bookshop! Should we get a few more books?"

Sam, finally at her wits end, opened her mouth to tell Mrs Granger where she could shove her books - and froze when she saw who had just passed them. 

Heading towards the ridiculously named bookshop was a scrawny boy dressed in oversized and overwashed hand-me-downs, wearing a pair of round glasses with hair as black as oil and as unruly as Sam's current birds nest. Sam instantly recognized the main character. But that wasn't what had made her freeze.

It was the expression on his face, twisted into pure loathing as he scowled around the bright and colourful street. She watched him enter the bookshop, kicking the door closed behind him and paying no mind to the giant of a man who was following him with a look of bewildered panic on his face. It was so out of charterer that it had struck her dumb.

Out of character...

"No way..." She breathed. "No fucking way."

Well aware that she could be completely wrong in her assumption, Sam hurried after him with the Granger duo on her heels.

The bookshop was full to burst with children, books piled in their arms and the arms of their parents, all of them wearing the bastardised bathrobes and honest to God witch hats that seemed to be the dress code here. It was easy to pick out the dark haired boy scowling at the shelves, a don't-talk-to-me vibe rolling off him so strong everyone was keeping a respectful distance. Sam slipped away from the Grangers and approached him with the confidence of someone who had nothing to lose.

"What the hell are you doing here, you prick?" She demanded as soon as she was behind him, the smile on her face and the excitement of her tone completely at odds with the words.

Harry Potter whirled around so fast Sam was sure he'd given himself whiplash. He stared at her, green eyes wide behind round glasses that were taped together at the bridge. He said nothing, eyes searching her own for a moment. 

Those vivid green eyes lit up and a wide grin spread across his face.

"I've never been so happy to see you in my life!" He dragged her into a crushing hug. "Even if you don't look like you!"

Sam's laugh bordered on hysterical and she hugged him back just as hard. The pressure in her chest that had been building ever since she'd woken up in the wrong body eased as she buried her face in the bony shoulder of the boy.

"Oh my God you have no idea how glad I am that you're here." She breathed, her ribs protesting at the arms crushing them but she refused to let go of the one familiar thing she'd found in this world.

Jim pulled back but kept his hands on her shoulders so he could look her up and down. "Who the hell are you supposed to be?"

"Hermione." He raised an eyebrow. "Emma Watson?" He shrugged, uninterested. "At least tell me you know who you're supposed to be."

He gave her a bright grin. "I'm the star of the show." He proclaimed, arms out to the side as if Sam was supposed to bow down before him. When she failed to do so, he lowered his arms. "So, any idea what the fuck happened?"

Her grin disappeared at the sobering question. She was about to tell him that she was as clueless as him when a voice from behind her cut off anything she might have said. "Oh, Hermione! Aren't you going to introduce us to your friend?"

Sam grit her teeth so hard her jaw ached. She'd completely forgotten about her fake-parents in the excitement of finding Jim here. She looked over her shoulder to give Mrs Granger a withering look.

"I'm Jim." He piped up before Sam could stop him. "We've been friends for ages."

You twat, she hoped the look she gave him conveyed her thought. The Grangers turned their questioning gazes to her. "Yeah..." She said awkwardly, stepping on Jim's foot in childish revenge. "We met at the... park?" That was where kids hung out, right?

Jim looked like he was trying very hard not to laugh at Sam's bad attempt at the accent she'd been trying to mimic since she got here. If the Grangers had picked up on it, they hadn't said anything. They probably thought it came with her new bad attitude.

"Why haven't you invited him over before?" Mrs Granger was disgustingly happy and Sam got the impression that Hermione didn't have any friends even before Sam arrived. "Would you like to come to our house for tea tonight, Jim? We're having shepherd's pie."

"Actually Sa - Hermione has been invited to my house tonight." Jim said with a disarming smile. "If that's alright with you of course, ma'am."

"Oh, no, that's fine!" Mrs Granger said a little too quickly, looking enamored with the polite young boy. Oh, if only you knew the bastard behind that innocent little face, Sam thought, amused. "What time do you want picking up?"

"We'll give her a lift home, it's no trouble." Jim answered for her. It was nice to see that being in the wrong body hadn't affected his ability to lie through his teeth. "I'm meeting my family at the ice cream shop once I've finished my shopping. Hermione can finish hers with me, so we can catch up."

If they weren't eleven years old and in front of her fake-parents, Sam could have kissed him.

"What was that accent?" Jim demanded as soon as the Grangers hugged Sam goodbye - much to her displeasure - and left. "You sounded like you belonged on BBC news."

"Yeah, and Harry Potter's definitely from Norwich." She drawled. Jim smirked. 

"C'mon, let's get out of here." He glanced around the shop. "If I spend one more minute with the giant guy I'm going to push him in front of a bus."

Sam, grinning like an idiot, took his hand and dragged him out of the bookshop.

They ended up in the Leaky Cauldron, the little pub that doubled as the entrance to Diagon Alley, and after failing to get served they sat in a secluded corner with a glass of Butterbeer each - which, unfortunately, had no actual alcohol in it - and a plate of sandwiches between them containing what could have been beef, chicken, or both.

"What the fuck happened?" Was how Jim started the conversation. He was scowling at his small, pale hands with nothing short of disgust. "Is this some kind of shared delusion or what? Did someone spike our drinks again?"

"I wish." Sam sighed, leaning back in her seat. "I thought it was some coma dream or something like that, now I have no idea."

Jim took a bite out of one of the sandwiches and immediately grimaced. "That's disgusting." He remarked, throwing it back onto the plate. "What are we even supposed to do?"

Sam puffed her cheeks out in consideration. She'd been wondering the same thing. "I don't know. This whole thing's a level of insanity I didn't think existed." She glanced around the pub; the families of shoppers were slowly trickling out, the room now mostly occupied by older wizards, probably the regulars. "I don't remember half the stuff that happens in the books, and I only remember the big parts of the films." 

"Lord Valium is on the back of some guy's head and wants to steal a mirror or something." Jim offered unhelpfully. "He wants to kill me, right?"

"Lord Voldemort is the least of our worries." Sam told him seriously. "Going through puberty again is way more terrifying than any evil wizard."

Jim's eyes widened before he scowled. "This is bullshit." He muttered, and then his expression shifted into one of deep contemplation. 

"What?" Sam asked warily. That face was familiar; it was the same one that led to thousands of pounds in debt, three cats, a trip to Germany, and a month of court proceedings. "What are you thinking?"

Jim pointed to himself. "I'm Harry Potter." Sam nodded, even though she had no idea where he was going with this. "I'm Harry Potter."

Sam's eyes darted up to the scar on Jim's forehead, barely visible through the mess of black hair. Jim was, in fact, Harry Potter.

He leaned across the table conspiratorially. "Think about it," he whispered, bright green eyes lit up with excitement. "We've got magic, I've got a whole vault full of money, no one here knows who we really are, and I'm fucking famous! No debt, no criminal records, and a whole new world to exploit."

"Don't you mean explore?"

"No. We were brought here for a reason, Sammy." He grinned at her, a flash of white teeth. "We're here to wreak havoc."

Sam was not on board with that idea. Absolutely not. They weren't here to exploit this new world. They weren't going to mess with the story just because they could. And she wasn't grinning right back at him.

No.

Of course not.

They were here to make things better. They were here with the foreknowledge of what would happen so they could help people. She wasn't thinking about how much chaos they could create, or how someone like Jim being Harry Potter was going to destroy the entire plot. And she definitely wasn't thinking about the damage they could do to just about everything with magic at their disposal.

She wasn't.

"You're right," Sam leaned across the table so they were inches apart as she whispered, "Let's fuck shit up."

Chapter Text

"Well, it's nicer than our old flat."

Jim wasn't wrong. It was definitely more spacious than their old flat and it didn't have a view of a building yard outside the window. What it did have was the head of some kind of beast mounted on the wall and a mirror that had insulted Sam's hair as she passed, as well as what looked suspiciously like bloodstains on the floor. 

"I've always wanted to live next to a necromancer." Sam said idly, collapsing on the surprisingly comfortable bed. 

"He didn't say he was a necromancer." Jim pointed out as he examined the bizarre animal head on the wall. "He just offered to take any dead bodies we may or may not aquire. He could be a cannibal or a necrophiliac, you shouldn't assume things, Sammy."

Sam couldn't even argue with that because their new neighbour could, in fact, be any or all three of those things. It would stand to reason that a place willing to let two unsupervised eleven year olds rent a room would have no problem letting a necromancer-necrophiliac-cannibal stay on the premises.

The two of them had decided that returning to their respective fake-families wasn't on the agenda and had hatched their first of many schemes in this world. Convincing the Grangers that there was a before-Hogwarts getaway for Muggle-borns to learn about the new world they were now a part of before going to school had been too easy, and it was well worth the teary goodbye Sam had to endure with the promise that she'd come home for Christmas. 

She wouldn't.

Now she was free from her fake-parents for a whole year, giving her plenty of time to come up with another excuse to leave next summer. 

Jim's fake-family didn't care that he was gone, possibly for good, and Sam was a little jealous at how easy his escape was. 

After leaving their fake-families the next step of the plan they were making up as they went along was finding somewhere to live. The Leaky Cauldron had no free rooms and finding somewhere in the non-Wizarding World that would let two underage children rent a room would be impossible, so they'd done what any rational people would do.

They found the shadiest place they could and started their search there. 

Knockturn Alley was a stereotypically creepy shopping district at the edge of Diagon Alley, all looming buildings and mysterious hooded figures lurking about the place. Sam had almost lost Jim half a dozen times when he'd wandered over to the many street vendors selling everything from human fingernails to cursed jewellery, having to physically drag him away from the hunchbacked man with an eye patch selling an array of wicked-looking knives. 

Sam might have been scared of Knockturn Alley if she was actually eleven years old, but she'd been to shadier places than this creepy little shopping district. She'd lived in shadier places. Knockturn Alley was trying way too hard to be edgy, giving off less of a 'dangerous' vibe and more of a 'haunted house theme park' vibe.

The Spiny Serpent Inn was nestled between Tallow & Hemp Toxic Papers (which sold poisonous candles) and Dystyl Phaelanges (which specialised in furniture made from bone) and it was their new home for the remainder of the summer. The owner, Moribund, was all too happy to let two children stay in his strange little Inn, no questions asked, after they'd offered to pay upfront for a month's stay and then some. 

It was nice to know that wizards, just like Muggles, would turn a blind eye to anything if the money was good enough.

"So, first things first." Jim jumped onto the bed next to her and sat cross-legged on the mattress. "How are we going to do this?"

Sam frowned up at the stained ceiling. "If you could be a little less vague I might have an answer."

"The whole magic thing." He elaborated, which really didn't help much. "I know we'll learn spells at school and all that, but I'm thinking we take matters into our own hands, learn the spells that are less... mainstream."

Sam turned her head to look at him. "Such as?"

"You know, the cool spells." Jim grinned. "None of that beginner's crap."

"I think the beginner's crap is how you actually learn magic, Jim. Like riding a bike." Jim waved a dismissive hand.

"Yeah, but we're not actually eleven, that'll give us an advantage."

Sam sat up and mirrored his pose, their knees touching. "Maybe." She allowed, frowning as she thought it over. "There are probably books that explain magic. We can figure out what we can learn on our own and go from there, find the 'cool spells' once we know what we can do." 

Jim beamed at her. "See, that's the kind of planning I'm talking about." He said cheerfully, slapping her knee. Sam grinned back, but then something less fun came to mind. 

"There's something else we need to plan for." Jim raised an eyebrow in question. "There's a big bad evil wizard out to get you, remember?"

Pursing his lips in consideration, Jim h'mmed. "I mean, the bloke's never done anything to me. Maybe we can talk it out, come to some sort of compromise."

"He tries to kill Harry in, like, every book." Sam pointed out. "I don't think he can be talked down, they probably would have tried that."

"Good point." Jim frowned at the mounted head on the wall like it held the answer to their dilemma. "Let's just kill him."

This time it was Sam who raised a questioning eyebrow. "And how are we going to do that?"

"I've only seen a couple of the films. You're the one who read all the books, you tell me."

Sam's gaze drifted over to the wall as she tried to remember the last book. She'd seen the film, too, but right now all she could recall were bits and pieces and she wasn't even sure which events happened when. 

"Okay," she said finally, turning her attention back to Jim. "There's a necklace in the middle of a zombie lake we need to get - there's these things called hor... somethings, we need them. There's something in the bank, like a cup or something, we can use a dragon to get out - oh, and we need a sword. I don't know why, we just do." Then she remembered the most important piece of information. "And Harry dies."

Jim, who had been listening with idle curiosity, blinked in surprise. "He dies?"

"He lets Voldemort kill him and he goes to speak with ghost-Dumbledore in heaven or something." Sam recalled. "But he's fine. He comes back to life."

The person who was currently Harry Potter considered that for a moment. "Well, that's stupid. I'm not doing that. Whatever real-Harry did, consider me not doing it." Sam nodded. That sounded fair. "Do you remember anything, y'know, useful?"

"That was useful!" She protested. Jim made a seesaw motion with his hand. "It'll come back to me. We've got about four books until he becomes a problem, we've got time to plan."

"We need a gun." Jim decided.

"No, Jim."

"Come on, it'll be so much easier!"

"No."

"Sammy!"

"...Fine. Let's get a gun."

It turned out, to Sam's relief and Jim's irritation, that there were no guns to be found in Knockturn Alley - because wizards didn't even know what guns were, which had been a fun conversation with Moribund, who'd pointed them in the direction of some cursed objects that could do more harm than any Muggle weapon. They put it on their to-do list. 

But first, magic.

"Winguardium Leviosa!"

Jim scowled down at the feather when it refused to rise into the air like he could scare it into obeying him. Sam bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. It had been ten minutes and Jim had failed to get the feather to so much as twitch. 

"This is bullshit." He declared, looking at the wand in his hand. "Great and terrible things my arse - can't even move a feather!"

"Just because I got it before you." Sam smirked, twirling her own wand between her fingers. She'd got the feather to levitate on her first try.

The three weeks before school started had been split between reading as many books as they could between trying out various spells from The Standard Book of Spells: Grade One. So far they'd mastered two spells each; Sam could cast the Wand Lighting Charm and the Unlocking Charm, while Jim had opted to go for the Severing Charm and the Fire-Making Spell. Their priorities might have been different, but both of them wanted to make things levitate solely so they could make Star Wars references.

Finding out about 'The Trace', which was used to make sure underage magical children didn't practice magic outside of school, had initially been a source of great disappointment before Sam decided to look into it further and found the perfect loophole. If underage magic was performed in an all-wizard environment - such as Hogwarts or the two Alleys - it was completely untraceable. Jim had wanted to go straight into Curses And Counter-Curses, but Sam had managed to convince him that some useful, every day spells would be a good place to start.

Learning spells was far more complicated than either of them had anticipated. You had to move the wand in the right way, speak the incantation perfectly, and concentrate on the desired outcome. The books warned that doing any of those things incorrectly would make the spell fail or backfire, but that hadn't deterred them. Even after Sam set the curtains on fire.

Twice.

Jim collapsed on the bed he next to her with a loud sigh, apparently done with the feather for today. His owl, G-Mail, swooped down from the Graphorn head on the wall to land on the headboard next to him. 

"Can't believe we're going to Hogwarts tomorrow." He remarked as he tossed his wand in the air and caught it. "Fucking about with magic is one thing, but Hogwarts?"

"That's when shit gets real." Sam's eyes were drawn to the scar on Jim's forehead. "We still haven't talked about Voldemort." Jim let out a long-suffering sigh.

"I still don't see how he's our problem." He complained, which had been his response every time Sam brought the matter up. "Why can't we just let Gandalf -"

"Wrong franchise."

"- deal with it. Isn't he supposed to be all-powerful?"

It was Sam's turn to sigh. "Because in the books the adults are completely useless, which is kind of the point. How interesting would the stories be if any of the teachers actually did shit?"

Jim made a noise of acknowledgement. "But why is Lord Vanderdoodle our problem specifically?"

"Because he wants to kill you, Jim." Jim groaned.

"I can't be arsed to deal with him." He whined, and Sam pat him on the shoulder sympathetically.

"Well, you should have hijacked a side character's body instead."

Chapter Text

"I thought you said you knew where you were going." Jim accused, stopping to lean heavily against the huge trunk he was lugging around. G-Mail gave an unhappy hoot from his precariously balanced cage atop the trunk. "Yeah, I know, you're pissed about the cage. Get over it."

G-Mail puffed his feathers out and turned his head away from Jim. He was sulking. Magical owls were way too intelligent. Sam feared them.

Sam looked around the station, failing to spot a brick wall with people running through it anywhere. The two of them were starting to attract attention, hauling around trunks and a bloody bird. "Adaptation fail. I'm lost." She told him. Jim sighed heavily, turning to G-Mail.

"Do you know where the platform is?" He asked, but the owl was still sulking. "Bloody typical." He glanced around like he would find a sign telling them how to proceed, and suddenly straightened. "Hey," he tapped her on the arm and pointed across the platform. "Check them out."

He was pointing at a pair of dark haired twin girls accompanied by their parents, the father holding a cage containing a little brown owl. They watched the group head towards the metal barrier stretching from gate 9 to gate 10 to prevent people from bypassing the gates; the family walked right up to, and then through, the barrier - then they disappeared.

"That's more like it." Sam grabbed her trunk again and the two of them followed their example.

On the other side of the magic barrier they were greeted with a platform full of families, people dressed in all different coloured robes, cats and owls everywhere as children boarded a massive red steam engine.

"I love it." Sam declared, staring at the train. "Oh my God this is great."

Sure, she was in the body of one of the main characters and she'd been messing around with magic, but seeing the actual train that would take them to Hogwarts was bringing the excitement of actually being in this world.

This was going to be amazing.

They claimed the compartment at the very end of the train and pulled the shutter down on the window to avoid any unwanted guests, piling their trunks in front of the door to ensure their peace. "So," Jim said once he was lounging across the seat with his feet up. "We should probably have some ground rules."

"Ground rules?" Sam repeated, surprised. Rules wasn't a word in Jim's vocabulary.

"We have to be smart about this, right?" He asked as G-Mail, free from his prison at last, flew over to land on his knee. "I mean, we sort of know the plot, but if we change too much shit we won't have any idea what's going on."

That was... actually a reasonable line of thought. If they changed too much they'd lose their only advantage here, but she seriously doubted their ability not to mess with things. Still, she nodded.

Jim grinned, folding his arms behind his head. "Tell me a story, Sammy."

They spent most of the ride going over the events of the first book, deciding to take the years one at a time so they didn't get too ahead of themselves. They had most of the major points down; Quirrell had Voldemort on the back of his head and wanted to steal the Philosopher's Stone - not a mirror, which Jim was convinced of - there was a three headed dog, and Sam remembered a giant chess game while one of the only thing Jim remembered was Harry killing Quirrell with his 'fire hands'.

It was probably a bad idea to do it one year at a time, that they'd mess things up for later years, but they also didn't care enough to plan that far ahead. 

They wanted to have fun.

Using their fake-names wasn't going to work seeing as Jim hated the name Hermione and anything he tried to shorten it to just sounded worse, and Sam doubted Jim's ability to remember his fake-name at all. Telling people 'Sam' and 'Jim' were nicknames was easier than having to explain them when they inevitably slipped up and used them. 

Discussion switched to which House they wanted to be in. Jim wanted Gryffindor because it was the main House from the films while Sam was all for Hufflepuff, which led to an argument over which House was superior. They still had no plan to defeat Quirrell by the time the announcement came that they had arrived, and as Sam pulled on her black robes excitement overrode any care about the evil wizard waiting for them.

The boat ride across the lake was awful.

Sam had a white-knuckled grip on the edge of the boat the entire time and almost completely missed her first look at Hogwarts when Jim rocked the boat enough that they very nearly capsized.

Her first impression of Hogwarts was that it was big. Set upon huge rocks above the lake they were crossing, the castle was at least seven stories tall and utterly massive; a complicated, diverse collection of buildings of varying styles and architecture with towers that looked like they defied gravity. It was the best thing she'd ever seen in her life. 

When they finally entered the Great Hall - after Sam lost a couple of years of her life when a group of ghosts floated through the wall - she was just as awed as she had been with the exterior. Tall walls reached up to a ceiling that was covered with floating candles and looked like it was open to the night sky. Four long tables ran down the length of the Hall, filled with hundreds of students, and at the staff table at the front of the room Sam spotted the villain.

"Hey," she whispered, nudging Jim. "Voldemort up ahead."

Jim looked up at the man that was currently hiding Voldemort under his purple turban. Quirrell definitely didn't look like the villain, pale and anxious and jumping at every loud noise. Jim looked far from impressed.

"Are you sure?" He whispered back. Sam nodded. "I can definitely take him in a fight. This is going to be easy."

While the Sorting Hat sang a song about the four Houses and their traits, Sam contemplated which one she'd prefer. She'd taken a quiz or two before, fallen down a Buzzfeed rabbit hole and ending up finding out what type of cheese she'd be, and she always got Hufflepuff. She'd prefer Ravenclaw, she decided. Their colour scheme was the most appealing.

When her fake-name was called she went to sit on the stool eagerly, and as the hat was lowered onto her head she prepared to debate her way into her preferred House, opening line ready -

"SLYTHERIN!"

Well...

Scowling, Sam walked over to the Slytherin table to the applause of her new Housemates. She hated green.

This thing was rigged.

Finally, Jim was called up. The room immediately filled with excited whispers at the sight of the protagonist in the flesh and Sam watched him sit on the stool, swearing that if he got his preferred House she'd demand a re-Sorting. It took the hat a whole second longer to Sort Jim. 

"SLYTHERIN!"

Sam laughed.

The applause for every other student when they were Sorted was like each House had won a prize, but for Jim it was hesitant, a palpable confusion at the placement. Even the Slytherins seemed stunned, but they clapped for their new addition at least.

"Why does it feel like I've done something wrong?" Jim asked as soon as he sat down next to her, looking around in confusion at the reaction.

"You're in the evil House." Sam informed him cheerfully. "You're supposed to be the good guy, Jim."

"I didn't pick it." He said, affronted.

"Evil." Sam told him as the Sorting continued. "Pure evil."

Dumbledore stood up once the last student had been put into their designated House and Sam was sure there had never been a wizard more wizardly than the Headmaster, with his long silver beard and bright purple robes. "Welcome!" He said, arms open wide like he wanted to hug the entire Hall. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!"

What a magnificent man.

Food appeared out of thin air and Sam eagerly grabbed a handful of Yorkshire puddings, ignoring poor Jim as every Slytherin in the vicinity introduced themselves to him. He effectively halted the hand shaking by asking, "Okay, why did no one look happy when the talking hat put me here?"

An older Slytherin a few seats away answered him. 

"You might have heard rumours about Slytherin House; that we're all into the Dark Arts, that we've produced our fair share of Dark wizards - including the Dark Lord you defeated." She told him. "It's safe to say that no one expected Harry Potter to be Sorted into Slytherin."

"The coolest and edgiest House." Sam summarised. "Told you you're evil, Jim."

"You got put here too." He retorted.

"I'm not the saviour of the Wizarding World."

"I don't recognize the name Granger." The hard-faced girl sitting opposite her said, and Sam raised an eyebrow.

"Don't see why you would, I've never met you."

The girl sneered. "Don't tell me you're a mudblood?" What a strange request. If only Sam knew what it meant. 

"And a mudblood is...?"

"A Muggle-born." The word was delivered with such disgust it might as well have been laced with cyanide.

"Oh, yeah, that's me. Muggle parents." Jim snorted at the reminder of the Grangers and Sam kicked him under the table. "Why 'mudblood' though? Is that like an insult or something?"

Another Slytherin, a girl with unfortunate pug-like features, joined in. "It means you've got dirty blood."

Jim looked enlightened. "Oh! Magical racism! Hear that, Sammy? My blood's superior to yours, my blood could beat your blood up in a fight." He looked at the other girl. "Right?"

"You're a half-blood." The older Slytherin told Jim, the word not quite holding the same amount of disgust as 'Muggle-born', but still giving the impression that it was something to be looked down upon. "You're better than a mudblood" another sneer in Sam's direction "but Slytherin is largely a pure-blood House."

Wow, that was a you're not welcome here if she'd ever heard one. 

"This is why people think you're evil." Jim pointed out. "Evil racists at that."

"I'm O-Negative." Sam said as she grabbed another Yorkshire pudding. "If that helps."

"Universal donor." Jim nodded, then peered at the Slytherin. "What about you?"

"I... What?" The girl asked, bewildered.

"Your blood type." He clarified. "You know, A, B, AB, O?" The Slytherins looked confused and mildly concerned. Jim frowned. "All this preaching about blood and none of you know your blood type? What, you've never been to a GP before?"

"A what?"

"Oh my God." Jim groaned. "Wizards are useless." He turned to Sam to complain. "First the robes and the quills, now there's no NHS? What's next, no pensions?" The children stared at him, still confused, and he put his head in his hands. "I hate magic. Take me home, Sammy!"

"Hold on," Malfoy began, eyes narrowed. "Did you grow up with Muggles?"

"Were you even listening to me?" Jim asked, dropping his hands to give Malfoy a look of pure exasperation. Now Jim was on the receiving end of the nasty look. 

"You? Famous Harry Potter, growing up with Muggles?" Oh God, Sam had never thought a sentence could be delivered in such a way that demanded you punch the speaker, but there it was. 

"Oh shove off, Mallory." Jim rolled his eyes. "I'm an orphan. I have a tragic past. It's extremely sad." Sam snorted, and he gave her an indignant look. "What? It is!"

"Okay, Jim."

Jim opened his mouth, no doubt to go on about how tragic his life was, when Malfoy demanded, "Why are you calling him 'Jim'?"

"It's a nickname." Jim drawled, the 'idiot' heavily implied. Malfoy's frown turned into a scowl. 

"Obviously." He spat. "You're going by your middle name, then? James Potter the second, is it?"

Jim stared at Malfoy for a second, then laughed. It was loud and a little unhinged, and several of the closest students looked alarmed at the reaction.

"James!" He cackled, eyes bright as he looked at Sam. "Did you hear that, Sammy? James! Holy shit that's hilarious!" It took him a minute to calm down, and he was still grinning when he said, "You know what? Yes. That's exactly it, I am now James Potter - not the second, though. I don't care who this other James is, there can only be one."

"That would be your father, Jim - tragic, remember?" Sam grabbed the last of the Yorkshire puddings. This feast thing was great, she could just pick out the best bits and ignore all the crap. 

"Right, yeah. Tragic. Poor James and..." He closed his mouth, thought for a second. "Poor Mum and Dad." He amended. Everyone was staring at him like he was a complete nutcase, and Sam pitied these poor Slytherins.

They had no idea what they were in for. 

Chapter Text

"I'm not sleeping in there."

"Sammy, don't be such a baby."

"No. Absolutely not. I'm changing Houses."

"Sammy -"

"Don't even try me, Jim."

Sam had gotten over her little upset at not being able to choose her House relatively quickly - hell, she hadn't even complained that they were going to be sleeping in the creepy dungeons. No, the real problem came when she'd entered the Slytherin common room and saw the wall-to-ceiling windows that looked out into the depths of the lake. 

She'd turned around and walked right back out. 

"Would you sleep in a room full of spider webs?" She demanded of Jim, who was standing in front of the entrance to the common room as he tried to convince her to come back inside, as he'd been doing for the past five minutes. 

Jim sighed like he was dealing with a toddler who was refusing to go to bed. "Sammy, it's a lake. There are no sharks in a lake." She scowled at him. That wasn't the point and he knew it, 

There wasn't a lot that could scare Sam, if she was being honest. In fact, she was a bit of a thrill seeker. Heights, spiders, snakes, none of the usual phobias were a problem for her - unlike Jim, who was absolutely terrified of the 'eight legged bastards' - but her completely rational fear of the dead-eyed too-many-teethed ocean dwellers was so strong that any water deeper than a puddle freaked her out.

It wasn't that she actually thought that there would be a shark in a lake or a swimming pool, but the thought of it was enough to make her anxious at the sight of any body of water that could fit a shark in it. 

And now she was supposed to sleep in a room with an open view of an endless dark abyss of water?

Fuck. That. 

"Where are you going to sleep, then?"

Sam crossed her arms. "Anywhere else." She said firmly. Jim sighed.

"Right," he grabbed her arm and dragged her back into the common room. The other first years had already gone to their new dorms and the only people in the room were a couple of older students, including the Prefect whose speech Sam had walked out on. 

"Hey, Prefect guy." Jim said as he pulled an unwilling Sam over. "Are there sharks in the lake outside, magical or otherwise?"

The Prefect stared at him, confused, before he realized that Jim was actually waiting for a serious answer. "No, of course not." Jim gestured at the boy like that solved Sam's problem entirely. "It's usually completely still out there. The only creature you'll really see is the giant squid, but that's not -"

Sam turned around and left the room. 

It took Jim the better part of an hour to get her back in the common room, and instead of going to bed they sat at a secluded table in the corner of the room to plan their next move. 

"Okay," Jim said, putting his hands on the table in a very businesslike manner for an eleven year old. "I want to go to the forbidden corridor."

Sam had expected as much. "You just want to see the dog."

"A dog with three heads, Sammy!" He urged, as if she didn't understand the concept. "Why would you not want to see a dog with three heads? When will you ever get the opportunity to see a dog with more than one head again?"

"Jim, it will eat you."

"You don't know that."

"It's literally there to guard the Philosopher's Stone."

Jim frowned. "How do you know what it's guarding?"

"It's the name of the bloody book, Jim."

"Oh." Jim said after a moment. "Right."

"You forgot, didn't you?"

"A dog with three heads!"

That particular argument went on for a while before Sam finally gave in and agreed to visit the dog, which brought them to their next argument.

"Jim," Sam said in as patient a tone as she could, "you're fucking rich."

"Yeah, but I'm not immortal." He grinned. "Yet."

She regretted telling Jim about the Stone. She'd decided to find out what the hell a Philosopher's Stone even was before jumping headfirst into the plot, yet revealing to Jim that it could turn any metal into gold and make someone immortal had been a mistake. She should have just told him it was a pretty rock.

"Come on, Sammy." Jim whined. "It'd be so cool! Immortality!" Sam had to admit that this very weak argument was swaying her. "Look, we need to stop Lord Vaseline, yeah? Let's beat him at his own game."

"You just want the immortality stone."

"Think of the children."

And so Jim won their second argument, because literally all it took to convince Sam to do something was either A, it would be funny or B, it would piss someone off. Jim's relentless need to always be doing something complimented Sam's impulsiveness quite nicely and it really was a wonder they'd lived as long as they had. 

Right now she was wondering if they'd manage to survive one year in this world, let alone seven. 

Oh God, Voldemort was going to win because Jim wanted to pet a dog. 

Actual magic lessons, it turned out, were pretty damn hard. There was theory and practice and a million and one other things before they were actually allowed to try the spell, and Transfiguration was way harder than the Charms they'd managed to learn on their own. Both Sam and Jim completely failed to turn their matchsticks into needles. Jim had claimed it to be impossible until three other students managed it, at which point he lit his match and set his neighbour's parchment on fire. 

That was the first detention Jim earned. 

Ten minutes later, Sam was on the receiving end of McGonagall's ire.

"Miss Granger?" Sam looked up at the Professor. "What is that in your hand?"

"A pen."

"Where is your quill?"

"I don't have one."

"And why not?"

"It's the nineties." There were several giggles from the Hufflepuff side of the room. "I get your aesthetic, but the quills are just taking the piss. I'm not writing with a bloody feather."

That was the first detention Sam earned.

Potions had been the lesson Sam had been looking forward to the most, something that baffled Jim considering she'd made her hatred of the subject quite obvious after reading through her Potions textbook and finding out just how needlessly complicated and boring it all was. 

Poor Jim. He had no idea what he was in for. 

Finally, it was Friday. Sam made sure to drag Jim to sit at the front of the class next to Malfoy, who looked less than enthusiastic at the seating arrangement. If there was one thing that was becoming common knowledge among their peers, it was that Sam and Jim were 'not right' - an opinion Sam wholeheartedly agreed with and had no desire to change. So far Jim had told at least a dozen different stories about the night Voldemort tried to kill him and had described the man with increasingly ridiculous features until he convinced a group of third year Gryffindors that the Dark Lord bore a striking resemblance to Pennywise the clown.

By September 6th the Boy-Who-Lived was less of a celebrity and more of a public menace.

"It's a stupid name." Jim would complain to anyone who called him by that particular title. "Jim The Unkillable is way better."

Sam's preferred title for Jim was 'The Unkillable Twat'. 

She was almost bouncing in her seat with excitement when Professor Snape swept into the room, and God it was dramatic, with his robes billowing out behind him like some kind of menacing bat creature.

When Snape took attendance Sam was grinning in anticipation, and when he reached Jim's fake-name the man did not disappoint.

"Mr Potter." Snape paused when he read the name. This was it. "Our new celebrity." His voice was low and mocking, and Sam wasn't the only one who snickered.

Jim looked at the Professor curiously. "Who was the old one?" 

"Two points from Slytherin for your cheek." Snape glared at him. Jim, visibly confused, looked to Sam for help.

She had none to give him. 

She mostly ignored the Professor's speech, but the choice phrases she caught told her it was at least an interesting one. Hell, she might have even listened to it had it not been delivered in a slow, quiet monotone. She'd met morticians with more enthusiasm.

"Potter!" The abrupt rise in volume made Sam, along with half the class, startle - including Jim, who'd been doing absolutely nothing to draw the man's attention. "Tell me, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

Jim stared. "Powdered what with the what now?" He looked bewildered at the unfamiliar words and terms that had just been thrown at him. "That - that's gibberish." He looked at Sam once more for help. "Am I supposed to be able to understand him?"

Snape's lip curled into a sneer. "Five points from Slytherin." Sam wondered if Slytherin House would end up in negative points by the end of the lesson. "Let's try again. Where would you look if I asked you to find me a bezoar?"

"The zoo?"

"What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

"Their names." Jim said confidently. Several people giggled, then immediately fell silent when Snape's dark eyes landed on them. 

Sam was enjoying Potions way too much. 

And then...

"Miss Granger." Sam looked up warily at the slow drawl of her fake-name, already knowing what was coming. "What are you writing with?"

"...A pen."

"Where is your quill?"

"Just give me detention. This is the hill I'm going to die on."

That was the second detention Sam earned, and by the end of the lesson Jim had earned his second, third, and fourth as well as losing a total of twenty three points for Slytherin. 

"What is his problem?" Jim asked as they left the Potions classroom, glancing over his shoulder like he was waiting for Snape to leap out and ask him more nonsense potion questions. 

"I can't remember." Sam told him cheerfully. "Something to do with your fake-dad being an arse. I'm pretty sure he wanted to shag your fake-mum, too."

Jim looked positively alarmed.

Chapter Text

Halloween.

It was genius. Foolproof. Everyone would be at the feast, giving the two of them the perfect opportunity to scope out the third floor corridor (aka, so Jim could pet the dog) and if anyone asked why they weren't at the feast they had the perfect alibi.

Jim's mourning of his fake-parents' death.

They spent the weeks leading up to Halloween coming up with their plan. Midnight common room plotting became a thing; Sam actually slept in her dorm after discovering her bed had hangings around it so she didn't have to see the lake outside, but it was a sleep often disturbed by nightmares of the giant squid and a posse of sharks breaking in through the window. 

Sam's recollections from the books and films came in two forms: extremely useful, and why the hell did I remember that? She was confident she'd remembered most of the obstacles between them and the Stone. Jim had bribed Malfoy into teaching him how to play chess and Sam was 90% sure the killer plant could be defeated by fire. 

Lessons went by relatively smoothly, Potions being the obvious exception. With Sam's complete disinterest in the subject and Jim antagonizing Snape they had so far melted three cauldrons and lost Slytherin enough points that the Prefects had threatened - then begged - them to stop.

They wouldn't. Especially after Sam scolded Jim for throwing a piece of slug at her with an irritated "James!" and Snape had thrown them out of the classroom and given them a week of detentions. Sam was now certain of her vague recollection of Jim's fake-dad being an arse being the reason for Snape's hatred. Jim was convinced Snape was just really passionate about slugs.

She was pretty sure they were at war with Snape at this point. 

The rest of the students had a healthy dose of fear in regards to the Boy-Who-Lived, and Sam may or may not have been the one to start the rumor that the Killing Curse had destroyed a vital part of his brain. The other Slytherins already had a strong dislike of Sam for her dirty O-Negative blood and that, coupled with her and Jim's inability to conform to things like social norms or just being decent human beings in general had made the attitude of their entire House solidify into: just ignore them and maybe they'll go away. 

And then, finally, it was Halloween.

"Three heads!" Jim was practically skipping down the corridor, dragging a less eager Sam along by the hand. "A dog with three heads! It's like that lamb that was born with two heads but so much better!"

Sam had no idea where Jim's obsession with animals that had more heads than they should have had come from, but she prayed to any gods that existed that hydras weren't a thing in this world. 

They were almost at the forbidden corridor when the sound of fast-approaching footsteps had them ducking back behind the corner, and they watched as Professor Quirrell, turban askew, dashed down the corridor towards their intended destination.

"Oh, come on!" Jim whispered, irritated. "Now? Seriously? That's -" Sam shushed him when another set of footsteps came from the same direction Quirrell had appeared from, and this time they got to witness Snape run down the corridor after the other Professor, his robes flared out behind him like a superhero cape.

"He's my favourite Avenger." Sam whispered, and Jim snorted loud enough that Sam was sure Snape would come back for them, but he'd gone. 

"That's crap." Jim complained as they set off in the opposite direction of the Professors. "What do we do now? Wait for Christmas?" Sam shrugged. "Bullshit."

Jim sulked the entire way back down the stairs, and when they reached the first floor Sam was suddenly made aware of the fact that she'd forgotten a very vital plot point. 

"Oh, yeah..." She said meekly. "There was a troll in the dungeons."

Apparently the troll in question shared Sam's dislike of the dungeons, because it was standing right there in front of them. It was over ten feet tall with thick, dark grey skin and a ridiculously small head on top of its massive body. Sam probably would have found the sight funny if those beady eyes weren't trained right on them and it wasn't holding a huge wooden club. 

"Don't move." Jim said, completely still as he stared up at the troll. "Its vision relies on movement."

This turned out to be entirely false, because the troll let out a roar that vibrated through Sam's ribs like the loudest bass at a concert ever. "Leg it!" Jim shouted, and Sam didn't need to be told twice. The two of them turned and ran, the troll's heavy footfalls shaking the floor as it followed. 

"Holy fuck it's fast as fuck!" Sam screamed when she made the mistake of glancing back. The troll was moving at a speed that shouldn't have been possible for something built like that.

They managed to put distance between them and the troll at corners; it was fast, but it couldn't handle corners at all, slamming into walls and roaring in rage each time. Jim was letting out a continuous stream of expletives and Sam would have joined in if she wasn't too busy screaming. 

When they rounded their fourth corner Sam had a split second where she saw the person who'd been running towards the same corner from the opposite corridor before she collided with them, sending them both crashing to the floor.

"Don't go that way!" She scrambled to her feet, barely sparing her unfortunate victim a glance. "Sorry, Professor! Give me detention later!" She told Snape, who was still sprawled on the floor. McGonagall was staring at them with wide eyes but Jim grabbed Sam's hand and was urging her to run before the Professor could say a word. 

"It's fast as fuck!" Jim informed the Professors of Sam's earlier observation as they took off. 

Yes, let the adults deal with the problem. See how they like it.

They didn't stop running until they reached the Slytherin common room. Jim shouted the password and they literally fell into the room in their attempt to get through the entrance at the same time, and once again Sam became friends with the floor. 

The common room, which had been filled with nervous chatter, fell silent at their dramatic entrance. Sam made no move to get up, content to lie there and stare up at the ceiling as she tried to get her breath back. Her lungs burned on every inhale and the stitch in her side felt like someone had stuck a knife in her. 

"Where in Merlin's name have you two been?" Prefect Pucey yelled at them once he'd gotten over the shock. 

"Troll," Jim gasped, also not bothering to get up. "Not in the dungeons."

"It's fast as fuck." Sam informed the room breathlessly. She was not over that fact. Its legs and feet were not made for running, its entire physique made no sense. "I think I killed Snape."

Jim laughed, a breathless wheezing sound. "You better hope you did - you fucking tackled him!"

Sam put her hands over her face. "Let him be dead." She mumbled into her palms. "Fuck the plot."

Snape was not dead, as they found out an hour later when the entrance to the common room opened and the man himself was revealed on the other side. Sam felt like the grim reaper had come to claim her soul. 

"You two." Snape didn't even need to say which two. It was always them two. "Come with me."

Jim was fighting a grin as they followed the Professor out of the common room and Sam was getting the distinct impression of the hangman leading the condemned to the gallows, especially when she noticed that he was limping. Oh God, she was so dead.

Snape didn't say a word the entire walk, and though Sam had no desire to speak to him, awkward silences were her ultimate weakness. Thankfully, a second before she opened her mouth to ask Snape if his future career in football would be impacted, Jim pulled her to a stop. Snape turned around when he noticed the lack of footsteps. 

"This is the third floor." Jim pointed out, and Sam looked around in surprise. She'd been so focused on trying not to talk that she hadn't even noticed the number of staircases they'd climbed. "The Headmaster said we're not allowed here, and law abiding citizens such as ourselves -"

"Move." Snape's voice was so cold Sam was surprised his breath didn't mist in the air. Jim was clearly considering his options and Sam's feeling of her impending death increased. 

He was going to feed them to the dog. 

Thankfully, Snape led them down the opposite corridor - Jim gave the door to the forbidden corridor a longing look - and they followed him until he came to a stop in front of a massive stone gargoyle. Their was a brief pause before Snape finally said, "Sherbet lemon."

The utter deadpan those two words were delivered with completely overrode Sam's surprise at the gargoyle leaping aside, and she didn't quite cover her mouth in time to stop the snort escaping.

Snape's glare could have melted steel with its heat. Sam was certain she felt it singe her left eyebrow. 

"Magic escalator." Jim whispered when they followed the increasingly irate Snape onto the slowly ascending circular staircase, and Sam had a sudden longing for the rest of the stairs in this school to move by themselves. There were so many stairs. 

When they stepped through the wooden door at the top of the staircase Sam looked around in awe. They were in a large, circular room full of bizarre silver instruments on tables, whirring and emitting strange noises and little puffs of smoke, everything noisy and moving. The Headmaster was sitting behind an enormous desk, McGonagall beside him, but Sam's eyes were drawn to the swan-sized red and gold bird on the perch next to the desk. 

"Fire chicken!" Jim said, eyes bright with excitement. This apparently offended the 'fire chicken', which puffed out its chest in a distinctly huffy manner.

There was a chuckle, and Sam's attention was brought back to the Headmaster.

This was her first time seeing the man up close, and she was immediately captivated by his eyes; they were a brilliant, soul-piercing blue and Sam couldn't stop staring at them because holy shit those were the prettiest eyes she'd ever seen in her life. They were magic eyes. She was convinced all of Dumbledore's power was stored in his eyes and he could shoot it out like lasers, that's how magic they were. 

"I believe the word you're looking for is phoenix, Mr Potter." Dumbledore said, smiling. "And his name is Fawkes."

Jim tore his eyes away from the bird to stare at Dumbledore. "Please tell me you named him after Guy Fawkes because he explodes." He begged. 

Dumbledore's eyes were bloody twinkling. "I did indeed." He confirmed. Jim looked ecstatic.

These two were going to be best friends. 

"I was under the impression that Mr Potter and Miss Granger were brought here because of their foolish and life-threatening actions tonight." Snape sounded unimpressed with the bonding moment going on. Dumbledore glanced at the Potions Professor, then back at the two of them. He gave off an aura of pure serenity and Sam couldn't even pretend to be nervous in this man's presence. 

"Indeed they are." Dumbledore gestured to the two armchairs in front of the desk and Sam was pleased to find they were as comfortable as they looked. Once they were seated, Dumbledore reached towards a metal pot in the middle of the desk and lifted the lid to reveal little yellow sweets inside. "Would either of you care for a sherbet lemon? I'm rather partial to them."

Sam bit the inside of her cheek, looking anywhere but at Snape.

And then Jim completely broke her composure. 

"Sherbet lemon." He said in a completely dead voice that was a near perfect imitation of Snape, and Sam slapped both hands over her mouth in a failed attempt to stifle her giggles. She made the mistake of glancing at Snape and his murderous expression made tears come to her eyes as she held her breath in a desperate bid to stop the laughter.

Dumbledore looked like he was suppressing laughter himself, and Sam swore she saw a brief smile on McGonagall's face before her expression turned stern once more. 

"If we could get to the matter at hand." It sounded like it was taking a significant amount of restraint for Snape not to shout. Dumbledore looked like he was enjoying this as much as Sam was, but he nodded. 

Sam grabbed a sherbet lemon before he could change his mind. 

"Of course." Dumbledore said in that calm-inspiring voice. God, he'd be perfect for audiobooks. "We would like to know why the two of you decided not to return to your common room with the rest of your House."

"We didn't know about the troll." Jim said as Sam sucked on her sherbert lemon. "We weren't at the feast."

"Why not?" Snape demanded, and Sam looked at Jim expectantly. Here it was, their perfect alibi, all he had to do was be convincing enough for - 

"We were ghost hunting."

Sam almost choked on her sweet. 

"Ghost hunting?" Dumbledore asked, bushy white eyebrows raised in surprise. 

"It's Halloween." Was Jim's brilliant explanation, and Sam quickly crushed the sweet between her teeth so she could speak. She'd shown her surprise and damage control was needed. 

"It's not ghost hunting." She scolded like that was the part that had shocked her and not the utter ridiculousness of the lie itself. "Repeat after me: paranormal investigation."

Jim gave her a flat look. "Ghost hunting."

"Hunting implies we're trying to catch the ghosts. We were investigating the paranormal. We're professionals, goddammit."

Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling again. "I'm afraid your choice of Halloween activity was wasted." He told them. "All of the ghosts were in the Great Hall showing off their formation flying."

Sam's eyes widened. "What?" Jim demanded, as scandalized as Sam felt. "We missed ghost formation flying like the bloody RAF?" He was staring at Dumbledore with wide eyes. "You're lying."

"What else did we miss?" Sam cut in. "Were there dancing skeletons? Don't tell me there were dancing skeletons." Jim looked horrified at the thought, but Dumbledore was smiling at them. 

"There were no dancing skeletons to miss." He assured them, and Sam let out a relieved breath. She never would have forgiven herself for that missed opportunity. "But that sounds like a delightful idea for next year's feast."

"You will be my absolute favourite person on the planet if you do that." Sam told the Headmaster earnestly, then turned to Jim. "Sorry, Jim, you'll be demoted to my second favourite person. You can't fulfil my needs like that."

Sam didn't miss the sight eyebrow raise from Dumbledore at the name, but the surprise was gone in an instant. Snape's right eye twitched, but that was nothing new. 

"No, I get it." Jim said, looking as gleeful as Sam was at the idea. "I'd trade you for dancing skeletons like that." He snapped his fingers. 

"They're spooky scary, Jim."

She knew Jim was about to burst into song, but another amused chuckle from Dumbledore stopped him. 

"Well it seems the matter is resolved. You can't be blamed for not knowing about the troll, but I would urge you to attend feasts in the future. You wouldn't want to miss out." He told them brightly. Snape looked like he'd put a whole jar of sherbet lemons in his mouth at once and was not enjoying it. "You may return to your dormitories."

Grinning at their success, Sam jumped to her feet before Snape could actually explode. She grabbed Jim to pull him along with her, but not before he grabbed a handful of sherbet lemons. "Trick or treat!" He said, holding the stolen goods to his chest. 

"Sorry about tackling you I hope your football career doesn't suffer for it don't sue me." Sam said in a rush as they hurried out of the door and down the stairs. 

"Ghost hunting?" She asked incredulously once they were a safe distance away and Snape couldn't catch up with his limp. Jim shrugged. 

"I didn't want to lie to him." He said, and Sam frowned. "I mean serious lie to him. I like him, he's fun." He held out the handful of stolen confectionery. "Sherbet lemon?" He asked in a deadpan.

The story of their Halloween escapade reached the rest of the school by the following morning, and suddenly they were getting as much attention as Jim had when he'd arrived at the school. They were approached multiple times by students eager to hear how they'd apparently fought a mountain troll, but Jim would only tell one part of the story. 

"Please stop." Sam was begging him by lunch, keeping her back to the staff table so she didn't have to look at the Professor she knew was glaring at her. She could feel it. "He's going to murder me."

Jim, who had just finished telling yet another student how Sam had taken Snape down, grinned at her. 

"I can't help it! It's your greatest achievement!"

Sam was sure that Potions was going to be Snape finally leaving Jim alone to focus his hatred directly at her, but Jim - true to form - just couldn't help himself. Sam needn't have worried about breaking the man's leg, because Jim was far worse. 

The rest of the class were bewildered at the reaction the name of a boiled caused, hysterics on Sam and Jim's end and pure rage on Snape's. Jim was the one who started it; Snape had asked him a ridiculous question about a potion they probably wouldn't learn about until sixth year and Jim's answer had been a simple, deadpan, "Sherbet lemon." And Sam had lost her shit. 

They were sent out of class immediately, and by their fourth Potions lesson Snape didn't even let them in the classroom, slamming the door in their faces as soon as the rest of the class shuffled inside. They'd looked at each other, stunned, before Sam grinned and said, "I think we're winning."

And so Potions became a free period for them. Snape didn't even bother giving them detentions, and Sam was sure it was because he didn't want to be anywhere in their vicinity lest he snap and actually murder them.

Their war with Snape wasn't exactly a secret one, and by the beginning of December they'd attracted the attention of their competition.

"Okay, we have to know." Twin 1 said after cornering Sam and Jim in a corridor on their way to breakfast. 

"How did you get Snape to ban you from Potions?" Twin 2 asked.

"We've been working him for years."

"And you two break him in three months?"

"What's your secret?"

"We won't tell." 

"Pranksters honour."

Sam was getting whiplash trying to keep track of which twin was talking and Jim was peering up at the duo, considering. 

"What do we get out of sharing our best kept secret?" He asked, and Sam liked where this was going. 

"That kind of knowledge could be dangerous in the wrong hands." She continued for him. Four could play at this game. 

"Exactly." Jim nodded. "We can't just give the tools of our trade to any passing red-heads."

"Unless they have something to offer."

"And they can prove they're the right kind of wrong hands for us."

"Jim, that's filthy."

The twins looked delighted. Sam suspected they'd never had much in the way of competition before and they were living for it. "Alright, little snakes." Twin 1 said, his grin vicious. 

"We're in." Twin 2 said with a matching grin. 

"Do tell us how we can prove ourselves worthy of your knowledge."

"What can our right wrong hands do for you young ones?"

"George, that's filthy."

Sam was smiling like an idiot. They'd just found their new best friends - or, more accurately, their partners in crime. Jim clapped his hands. 

"Gentlemen," he said, grin just as vicious as theirs, "I do believe it's time for these duos to become a foursome."

"Jim, that's filthy." Sam was overjoyed to find her voice joined by two identical ones. 

Oh, this was going to be good. 

Chapter Text

"Why are you trying to kill our new best friends?"

Jim looked up from his Transfiguration homework to offer her a raised eyebrow. "I'm not trying to kill them."

"They're making snowballs hit Voldemort in the face."

Jim shrugged. "They're pros, he won't know it was them."

The price for their knowledge was, Jim had decided, harassing Quirrell. The twins were accomplishing this by bewitching snowballs to follow the man around, bouncing off the back of his turban. Jim's plan to defeat the Dark Lord was apparently annoying him to death.

"They're throwing snowballs at Voldemort's face."

"He deserves it." Jim said, going back to his homework. "He gives me headaches."

Sam had heard that complaint four times a week since they'd started school. Apparently Jim had 'Potter-Senses', as he'd dubbed it; he could detect Voldemort from fifty feet away, and this superpower came in the form of spectacular headaches when in the presence of the evil wizard. 

"Me too, Jim. Me too." Sam sighed. Even if Quirrell wasn't playing piggyback to evil incarnate, Sam would have hated him for both his maddening stutter and his obsession with garlic. His lessons were a complete joke, which was even more annoying because Defence Against the Dark Arts was the class she'd been looking forward to the most. 

At least the Weasley twins were happy. They'd successfully been banned from Potions for excessive use of sherbet lemon, which had in turn brought Snape's wrath down upon Sam and Jim. She was sure they'd never get out of detention at this rate, which they now spent writing lines with McGonagall seeing as Snape refused to be stuck in a room with them for any prolonged period of time.

McGonagall was far more difficult to get a reaction from, but they'd finally cracked it. 

Cat puns.

"Wow, the weather sure it claw-ful."

"I know, right? It's downright fur-midable out there."

"If the two of you continue I'll add another week's worth of detentions to the ones you've already accumulated."

"That would be a real cat-astrophe."

"Shall I make it two weeks, Miss Granger?"

"That's un-fur-tunate, Sammy."

"Mr Potter!"

They had, of course, shared this with their new partners in crime, and the four of them spent a solid two hours in the library coming up with as many cat puns as possible.

The rest of the school had been appropriately terrified at this unholy alliance. Well, everyone except for Dumbledore, who looked like Christmas had come early when the four of them were sent to his office and declared themselves The Sherbet Lemon Crew. He'd sent them away with a stern telling off that had been completely ruined by his amused magic eyes. 

The best development of the forming of their new crew was access to the twins' magic map, which Jim was disappointed to find his little label as Harry Potter and not Jim The Unkillable and was dead set on finding a way to alter it. It didn't show everyone at Hogwarts (which was a relief because it would just be a mess of hundreds of little ink figures) but it did show people who the user was specifically looking for or who the map felt could interfere with their intended mischief. The most frequent labels were Filch, Mrs Norris, Peeves, and Snape - though the twins always had eyes on their fun-hating brother, Prefect Percy.

The Marauder's Map was the perfect weapon of mass destruction.

Then Christmas arrived, and they were given a new weapon for their arsenal. 

Sam found out about this weapon when she ventured down to the common room at one in the morning to meet with Jim and found him absent. She sat at their designated table in the corner of the room, which had been graffitied with references to TV shows and films that hadn't been made yet and the words 'sherbert lemon' written in a wide array of handwriting styles, leading the other Slytherins to deem the table cursed and refuse to sit it at. She'd been waiting for about thirty seconds when Jim's grinning, disembodied head appeared right in front of her. 

Sam let out a bloodcurdling scream - the kind usually reserved for someone who was being brutally murdered - and leapt out of her chair, sending it crashing to the ground as she scrambled to get away from the floating head. 

The sound of thundering footsteps signalled the rest of Slytherin House responding to the scream, and Jim's head disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared, leaving Sam standing beside her overturned chair in the empty common room.

Prefect Farley was first on the scene, her wand raised as she ran into the common room like she was ready for a fight. Two dozen other Slytherins had also turned up to save Sam, all of them in their pyjamas with their hair in disarray, and the sight of the usually impeccably dressed Slytherins in such a state would have had Sam laughing if she wasn't still on the verge of cardiac arrest. 

After doing a quick scan of the common room and finding only Sam there, Prefect Farley scowled at her. "For God's sake, Granger!" She exploded. "The giant squid can't get in!"

There was a quiet snort from behind Sam and she jumped, whirling around. "Giant squid my arse!" She swiped in the direction of the noise and hit empty air. 

"Bloody hell..." She heard someone mutter despairingly, and she turned back around to face her Housemates.

"It's kind of sweet that you all came running to my rescue." She said. Prefect Farley's scowl was still firmly in place. 

"Whatever psychotic episode you're having, can you please do it quietly?" She asked in a tone that spoke of how completely done she was. Sam nodded. 

"Can do. Watch out for disembodied heads on your way back to bed." She looked around the common room but there was absolutely no sign of Jim, not even an out of place shadow. "It was like that scene from Alien with the milky robot, but without the milk. Or the robot. Everyone says that part where the alien explodes out of John Hurt's chest is the worst but I swear to God that bit where his head comes off and it's all pounds of milky chicken goo haunts my dreams."

"I don't even want to know." Prefect Farley said as she turned back towards the dorms. 

"Merry Christmas!" Sam called after them, receiving a few grumbled threats in return. As soon as the last unhappy Slytherin was gone she whirled around to face the empty room. "James!" She hissed.

Laughter came from over by the fireplace and Jim appeared out of thin air. "That was brilliant!" He said, still laughing. Sam crossed the distance between them to slap him on the arm. Hard. "Ow! Come on, Sammy! It was hilarious!"

"Potter-Senses and invisibility? You're a real life superhero." Sam said dryly, examining the bundle of silvery material in his hand. It looked like it was made out of water, definitely fluid-like, but when she reached out and touched it she found it felt like silk. "Where the hell did you get this?"

"It was on the end of my bed when I came out of the bathroom. Everyone's Christmas presents have just appeared - I think Santa's real."

"Right, the invisibility cloak." She recalled. "I forgot how and when you were supposed to get this. Who sent it?"

Jim shrugged. "No idea, there was just a note saying it belonged to my fake-dad and to 'use it well'." He shook the cloak out. "So, shall we?"

Walking under the cloak at the same time proved to be a challenge, and they spent a while walking up and down the common room under it until they got the hang of moving in sync before they left. 

They ended up in the kitchens, their new hangout after the twins showed them where it was and how to access it (Sam hadn't believed the twins when they told them about tickling the pear in the painting of the bowl of fruit, and when it had giggled and turned into a door handle she'd spent the next five minutes giggling herself) and sat at the replica Hufflepuff table. The house-elves loved them after Sam proclaimed them to be the best when they'd presented her with coffee on their first visit. House-elves were very easy to please and the squeaky voiced, bat-eared creatures were happy to supply them with endless amounts of caffeine.

"We can't miss the Christmas feast." Sam said once they had their coffee and the house-elves went back to their preparations for Christmas dinner tomorrow. "Two feasts in a row would be suspicious."

Jim made a noise of agreement, reading the list they'd made of the obstacles to the Stone. Jim was now decent at chess and Sam was sure Malfoy was warming up to his chess buddy on some level, and they had the fire making spell for the plant. Sam had even remembered that the dog fell asleep to music when she'd been writing down as much of the plot as she could remember and got to the part where Hagrid slipped up and told the kids as much. 

What they needed was a distraction, where they wouldn't be missed and knew no teachers would check on the defences. 

"Quidditch!" Jim said suddenly, giving Sam her second heart attack of the night. "Everyone goes to the Quidditch matches, even the Professors."

Sam beamed at him. "Brilliant!" She praised. "I'm pretty sure it's on the twenty second. That's only two months, we're going to be golden!"

Chapter Text

Christmas passed without much fanfare, though the feast was amazing, even if there were no RAF ghosts. Wizard Christmas crackers exploded with a bang as loud as a cannon blast and enveloped everyone nearby in a cloud of blue smoke (they'd managed to pull twelve before Prefect Percy put a stop to their fun) and they contained real hats instead of paper ones. Sam's Rear Admiral hat and Jim's top hat had replaced the black pointed hats that were part of their uniform, much to the irritation of the Professors. 

Who knew hats could earn you so many detentions? 

"I hope this match lasts as long as the last one." Jim said as they walked down the corridor leading to the forbidden one, the invisibility cloak draped over his arm. He glanced over his shoulder. "We're kind of fucked if someone catches the Snitch in the first five minutes."

"We've got loads of time." Sam waved a dismissive hand. "Everyone's got to get there yet and it takes the players about half an hour to come onto the pitch." Jim looked over his shoulder again. "What?"

"I thought I heard footsteps."

"Don't start getting paranoid, Jim."

"It's not paranoia if they're out to get you." He told her seriously. "There's an evil wizard around. I have to protect the immorality stone at all costs, even if it means taking it myself to make sure it never falls into the wrong hands."

Sam rolled her eyes. "Sure, Jim. You're a real hero."

"It's for the greater good, Sammy."

"The greater good." She repeated automatically, and he grinned. 

"That's the spirit!"

When Sam pushed the door to the forbidden corridor open she was immediately met with a thunderous growl, one that was quickly echoed by two more. Whistling the first tune that came to mind, she listened as the dog's growling slowly ceased, and within a matter of seconds it was snoring. Slowly, she opened the door. 

The dog looked like a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, only on steroids and the size of an elephant, three massive heads sleeping soundly next to one another, drooling on the floor. She stopped whistling to stare open-mouthed at the creature, and the second she stopped the middle head's nose twitched, eyes opening sightly. 

She quickly went back to whistling.

"Did you just Rickroll a dog?" Jim asked in a whisper. Sam, still whistling Never Gonna Give You Up, could only shrug. 

After letting Jim pet each of the three heads Sam pulled him over to the trapdoor. He pulled it open while she started the song from the beginning for the third time and they both peered into the dark pit that awaited them. There was no floor in sight. 

"Looks pretty deep." Jim commented, squinting into the darkness, and Sam leaned closer. "Let me know if you live."

And he pushed her. 

She screamed as she plummeted, cold air rushing past her. It was a long and dark drop that felt like it went all the way down to the dungeons and then beyond them, but when she landed it was a surprisingly soft surface that greeted her. 

"You prick!" She shouted up at the trapdoor, barely visible this far down. Laughter echoed down to her and a few seconds later Jim landed next to her with a heavy thump. 

"You making friends with the plant, Sammy?" He asked, glancing down. Sam followed his gaze and found that her legs were bound in what she thought for a moment were snakes, having wrapped around her while she was getting over the shock of her fall. She tired to pull them off but they tightened and Jim managed to get away from the plant before it could trap him too.

"Fire please." She requested as the vines tried to crush her shins. Jim pointed his wand to the right of her bound legs. 

"Incendio."

The vines recoiled immediately from the jet of fire that leapt from his wand, allowing Sam to pull herself free. Once she was away from the plant she glanced up again. "How the hell do we get back out?" She wondered. Jim shrugged. 

"Eh, we'll figure it out. There's probably a door or something."

"So we're completely winging it?"

"Pretty much."

They followed the sloping passage further into the chamber until they came to a brightly lit room full of what Sam initially thought were shiny metal birds, but turned out to be keys, one of which would open the door that Alohomora failed to work on. 

Sam sighed. "This is going to be such a ball-ache." She muttered as she went over to the brooms leaning against the wall by the door. 

It was a ball-ache. Five minutes of flying around catching keys later and Jim finally got the old fashioned silver key that matched the lock. Sam threw the broom to the ground with more force than was strictly necessary. "We've got our way out at least." Jim said, holding up the broom like that made the past few minutes of irritation worth it. 

It didn't. 

They found the giant chess game in the next room, and after Jim complained about playing black when he usually played white they stepped into place alongside the massive chess pieces and started the match.

It was pretty terrifying watching the stone pieces get obliterated, brutal even by normal wizard chess standards. The White Queen was by far the most lethal, personally taking out nearly all of their pieces. Sam had been staring up at the Queen, awaiting death, when Jim checkmated the King. 

"Why chess?" Jim complained as they crossed the board, rubbing his shoulder where a chunk of stone had hit him when the Queen decimated one of their comrades. "Why not just an army of chess pieces attacking anyone who came down here?"

"I think these things are more for the Professors to get through." Sam guessed. "It's a challenge for us, but if they had each teacher who put their obstacle in they'd fly through this. It's probably more to do with slowing down anyone who came down here than actually stopping them from getting to the end."

"I still don't get it." Jim said. "These defences were impressive to eleven year olds, but let's be honest, a proper wizard would get through these easily." He frowned. "Do you think Lord Valhalla plays chess? I can't imagine him playing chess. Shit, maybe these defences are effective."

"You know what would protect the Stone? A password. At least eight characters with one uppercase letter and a number."

"And if you don't get the right password within the first three attempts the chess pieces kill you." Jim agreed. "God, wizards are useless."

When they opened the next door the first thing Sam noticed was the stench, quickly followed by the massive troll standing in the middle of the room. 

"Shit!" Jim hissed when the troll's eyes focused on them. He dragged Sam to his side and threw the cloak over them both. "See, this is what I mean. Just stick a few trolls down here, that's more than effective!"

They didn't move for a few seconds and the troll stared at the place they'd disappeared from, confusion in its dull little eyes. 

"Told you its vision relies on movement." Jim whispered as they edged around the troll, keeping close to the wall as it lumbered over to where they'd been, swinging its club at the empty space. "Pfft, idiot."

As soon as they entered the next room fire sprang up behind them and Sam leapt away from the purple flames in surprise. The entrance to the next room was similarly blocked by fire, though it was black instead of purple. There was a table in front of them with seven unlabelled potion bottles of different shapes and sizes.

"What in the ever-loving fuck is this nonsense?" Sam demanded as she pulled off the cloak. "This wasn't in the film!"

"Oooh, a riddle!" Jim said, holding up the piece of parchment that had been in front of the bottles. 

"Is it 'what gets wetter the more it dries'? Because I know that one." Sam moved over to read over his shoulder. It was a long, complicated riddle; three of the bottles were poison, two were wine, one would let them back the way they came and one would let them go forward. 

It was hard, but not impossible, with enough clues to lead to the right solution. It would have been easier if they had a pen and a piece of paper to keep track with and many arguments were had over who was right, but in the end they were pretty confident. 

They did rock paper scissors over who'd take the potion first. Sam lost. 

"If this kills me I hope you get stuck here." She told Jim, then drank half the bottle. 

There was the sensation of ice flooding her entire body and she shuddered. "My everything just got brain freeze." She handed the bottle over and headed to the black fire. She stuck her hand in first, ready to yank it back at the first sign of heat, but the flames tickled her skin instead of burning it. 

Jim downed the remainder of the potion and stepped up beside her. "Showtime, Sammy." He said brightly, linking their arms, and together they stepped through the fire. 

The only thing in the next room was an ancient ornate mirror that had an inscription on its gold frame reading: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. Even though Sam remembered Harry getting the Stone out of it, how he did it was a mystery.

"What does it say?" Jim asked her. 

"How would I know?"

"It's Welsh, isn't it?"

Sam gave Jim an offended look at the insult to her language and her country. 

...It did look like Welsh. 

"It's gibberish." Sam told him, walking around to inspect the back of the mirror. "Maybe it's a potions question."

"Is the Stone in the mirror?" Jim asked, tapping the glass. Sam shrugged. 

"I honestly can't remember. Check your pockets."

Jim pat himself down, scowling when he came up empty. "Nope." He looked back at the mirror, then blinked. "Hey, mirror me has it!"

Sam circled back around to look at Jim's reflection. "Looks normal to me." She said, looking over his shoulder. "I think real Harry saw dead people in it. I think it shows you what you want the most."

Jim tilted his head. "There's no dead people in there. Why would he want dead people? Was he like our next door neighbour?" He grabbed her shoulders and put her directly in front of the mirror. "You try."

Sam stared at her reflection. Even now she wasn't used to seeing someone else's face in the mirror, and her gaze ran over her bushy hair, the big brown eyes and too-young face. She stuck her tongue out, but her reflection grinned instead. 

"No. Nope. I don't like it." She took a step back. "That's like a horror film."

Jim, who was inspecting the back of the mirror like Sam might have missed something, poked his head around the frame. "It should show you how to get the Stone, right?"

"You want the Stone." She reminded him. "Immortality is overrated. I'd just put it on our mantle piece like a trophy, or make a magic rock collection like people do with stamps. You know what, maybe I do want the Stone. A magic rock collection would -" She cut herself off when her reflection, still grinning, pulled a red stone from its pocket. "Apparently my reflection wants to put it on their mantle piece too."

Her reflection winked. 

"Shut up." She told it. 

Mirror-her put the stone back in its pocket, and Sam felt something drop into her real pocket. She copied her reflection and her fingers curled around something cold. She pulled the Stone out of her pocket and this time her grin matched the one in the mirror. 

"I win!" She announced, holding up the Stone. "My first magic rock for my collection!"

"You're the best!" Jim said, returning to her side to look at the Stone in her hand. "How the hell did you get it?"

Sam shrugged. "I don't care, I still got it."

"And now you can give it to me."

They both jumped at the voice and turned around to look at the entrance of the chamber.

Quirrell was standing there, the cold smile on his face an odd expression for the usually meek man. Sam frowned at him. "What are you doing here?" This wasn't right. Didn't Voldemort go after the Stone at the end of the year? She was sure he did. 

"I followed you through the trapdoor." Quirrell said coolly, calm and collected and it was so weird that Sam could hardly believe this was the same man who'd stuttered and stumbled his way through their lessons. "When you slipped away from the crowd on the way to the Quidditch match I intended to just kill you, but then you managed to subdue the dog - something I've been trying to achieve for months. I thank you for that."

"W-w-where has your st-stutter g-gone?" Jim asked, then his eyes widened in horror. "Oh n-no! It's p-p-passed into me!"

Sam couldn't help the snort that escaped, nor the laughter that followed it. Quirrell didn't look impressed. "Give me the Stone." He demanded, hand out like Sam was seriously going to walk over there and give it to him. 

"Did you play across the chess board?" Jim frowned at him. "You got here quick. Did you cheat?"

Sam shook her head in disappointment. "Sorry," she said. "We won't reward cheating. Go back and play the chess match and maybe we'll share it."

"Let me speak to the boy... face to face..."

Sam bit her tongue and she saw Jim pressing his lips firmly together to stop the laughter. The voice was a lot higher than she'd expected - not comically high, and still clear and cold, definitely a little menacing, but it still took her by surprise enough to be funny.  She couldn't wait to see what was on the back of Quirrell's head.

She got her wish when Quirrell unwrapped his turban and turned on the spot. It should have disturbed her, most definitely should have made her feel a little bit scared. But she honestly couldn't find it in her to be intimidated by what looked like a cheap Halloween mask, red-eyed and snake-nosed. It reminded her of something, but she couldn't pinpoint what. 

"Harry Potter..." Voldemort breathed, lipless mouth curling into a sneer. Sam suddenly realized where she'd seen that face before. "See what I have become? See what you have done to me?"

"Moisturize me." Sam whispered, and Jim lost his battle with laughter. Voldemort's face contorted in fury.

"Give me the Stone..." The face snarled. "Save your own life... or meet the same fate as your parents."

Jim nodded. "Alright." He held his hand out to Sam, who gave him an incredulous look. "He makes a compelling argument."

Sam threw her hands up in defeat and handed the Stone over. Instead of actually giving it to Quirrell, Jim pocketed it. "We have to shake on it." He said seriously. "I don't trust you. You get the Stone and go on your merry way."

Ah, Sam got it. 

Quirrell turned around to face them again and he and Jim met in the middle of the room, Jim holding his hand out. Quirrell's expression was eager at the prospect of it being this easy and he reached out and clasped Jim's hand without hesitation - then cried out in pain when his skin blistered on contract. When he tried to pull his hand back Jim grabbed hold of his wrist with his other hand. 

Voldemort was shrieking "KILL HIM!" over and over while Quirrell screamed in pain, and Jim had his eyes screwed shut like it was hurting him too. Sam watched from the sidelines, making no effort to help just in case this went to court. 

When Quirrell used his free hand to grab Jim by the throat, Jim released his wrist to grab the man's face, 

"Sorry, Professor!" Jim shouted over the screaming as he and Quirrell went to the floor, Jim now pinning the man. "It's canon!"

Voldemort was still demanding Quirrell kill Jim while the man himself cried uselessly in pain, grabbing at Jim's wrists with blistering hands. Jim leapt back, hand pressed to his forehead as he staggered away from the Professor who was writhing on the floor, red hands covering his ruined face. 

"Oh my God." Jim groaned. "I think I gave myself an aneurysm."

"You kind of deserve it." Sam said. Poor Quirrell was still screaming, but at least Voldemort had shut up. 

And then Quirrell went silent too. Sam watched, half fascinated and half disgusted, as black smoke exited through Quirrell's eyes, burning them out as it went. The smoke formed the vague shape of a human and, shrieking the whole way, it flew right through the fire at the end of the room. 

"That... was disgusting." Jim said, hand still over his scar. "Do you have any aspirin?" 

Sam was about to tell Jim that he'd just murdered a man and should show at least a shred of human decency, but she didn't feel particularly bad about it either. A part of her couldn't help but think of these people as fictional characters, and she wondered if her own lack of human decency said something about her...

Nah.

She was fine.

"At least we got the Stone." She pointed out, and Jim seemingly forgot about his headache as he reached into his pocket and pulled the Stone out. He held it up to examine, the firelight making it shine blood red. It was a pretty rock, she'd give it that. 

"Now, how do we use it?" Jim wondered. 

Someone stepped through the fire at the end of the room and Sam was sure it was Voldemort coming back to start round two, but she saw a magnificent beard and bright blue robes and swore under her breath.

Dumbledore, who'd strode through the flames with his wand drawn like a man on a mission, stopped at the sight of the scene before him. More people entered behind him until four other Professors were also staring at the two of them standing over Quirrell's body, holding the Philosopher's Stone.

Jim pointed at Quirrell's corpse.

"He did it."

Chapter Text

"And then he turned into a ghost and came out of his eyes. It was disgusting."

That was how Jim finished the story of the day's events - a story that was a careful blend of honesty and complete and utter bullshit.

Their absence from the Quidditch match hadn't been noticed, but Quirrell's had. Snape, who apparently also had Potter-Senses, suspected Quirrell of wanting the Stone from the beginning. He'd gone to the third floor as soon as he noticed the man wasn't in the stands with the rest of the Professors and found a magic harp keeping the dog asleep, and immediately went to rally the troops.

Apparently it was a lot easier to get to the Stone with a team of five. 

Sam and Jim's elaborate lie began with Jim's headaches in Defence Against the Dark Arts and their theory that Voldemort was Quirrell in disguise, and had been following him to get proof so they could go to the Headmaster - because they couldn't just accuse a member of staff of being Voldemort, they'd look silly and it would be far too embarrassing if they were wrong. 

Sam mostly let Jim bullshit his way through their story, cutting in when she knew he was about to say something incriminating or downright stupid. They went after Quirrell when they saw him going to the third floor and followed him to finally get their proof, and he revealed that Voldemort was hiding under his turban. He then attacked Jim, who acted purely in self defence and he didn't mean to kill Quirrell because how could he have known he had fire hands?

So really, it was all Quirrell's fault. 

Their story had so many holes in it that Sam wasn't sure a fist year would believe it, but their possession of the Stone turned out to be all the proof they needed according to Dumbledore, who told them only someone who wanted to find the Stone, but not use it, would be able to get it out of the mirror. The two of them agreed wholeheartedly that they only wanted the Stone to stop Voldemort from getting it - for the good of the Wizarding World, and all that. 

Dumbledore was beaming at them. Seriously, the man could have guided ships through fog. Sam was sure it was going to cause her severe vision problems.

"I believe you two have managed to break at least a dozen school rules to pieces." He told them, smiling like this was the great accomplishment it was. "It is only fair that I deduct House points, of course. That should be... Five points from Slytherin, I think. Each."

Sam nodded solemnly. "It's no less than we deserve."

"We've let our House down, we've let ourselves down." Jim said, just as grave. "The punishment is just."

Dumbledore's magic eyes twinkled. "I'm glad you agree. Now, let's see..." He thought for a moment. "For the best game of chess this school has ever seen, I think I should award you twenty points." Jim blinked, surprised, and then he was grinning. "And for superior problem-solving skills... another twenty points." Sam was grinning too. All the points they'd lost were being handed right back. "And for such bravery in the face of mortal peril... Yes, another twenty points each - which I do believe puts Slytherin at a tie with Gryffindor for the House Cup." He smiled at them. "Is there anything I missed?"

"Well, not to brag or anything, but Sammy here compared Lord Venison -"

"Lord Voldemort."

"- to a bitchy trampoline." 

Dumbledore's smile was incandescent.

"I think such creativity is worthy of no less than fifty points, Miss Granger."

When Dumbledore went on to explain that Quirrell couldn't touch Jim because he was just so full of love from his fake-mum's sacrifice Jim looked highly disappointed that he did not, in fact, have fire hands. Sam leaned over and whispered something very important in Jim's ear at the news. 

"The Power of Love is real, Jim."

Jim immediately burst into song. 

Dumbledore gave him ten points. 

When the rest of the school noticed Slytherin was suddenly 140 points up in a matter of hours Sam and Jim were suspects one and two for the simple reason that strange happenings were usually related to them. No one had believed them when they claimed they'd been given the points for killing Quirrell.

And then Dumbledore made an announcement at breakfast the next day that, as they may have suspected, they had been keeping a valuable magical object protected at Hogwarts this year at the request of its owner, and when Professor Quirrell attempted to steal it he was regrettably caught in the defences.

No one asked them how they'd got the points again. 

With nothing to do now that the actual plot was over, Sam and Jim were left to focus on their exams.

Aka, harass the Professors who had to deal with them one on one.

Transfiguration had started with Sam threatening to call the RSPCA on McGonagall because the woman wanted her to turn a mouse into a snuff box, then accused her of using mice because of a personal feline vendetta. She'd done the spell in the end, but the little cat heads she'd tried to decorate her box with just looked like ginger blobs.

Potions went about as well as she'd expected. With every addition to her Forgetfulness Potion she claimed the fumes were so strong that she forgot which ingredient she'd just added, and when the potion inevitably ended up as a useless gloop she told Snape it had definitely worked because she'd completely forgotten who she was and "I'm sorry, who are you? Where am I? What's this pile of gloop doing here?"

He'd told her to get out of his sight. 

The rest of the exams were less fun. The History of Magic exam had been the most boring experience of Sam's life - and she'd once been stuck in Luton Airport for twelve hours when her flight got delayed - and instead of answering a single question she'd spent the entire hour throwing things at Jim, who spent an hour throwing them back. The ghost teacher hadn't even noticed. 

Still, she was happy with the grades she received the next week. 

"I am acceptable!" She informed Jim happily. "For once in my life I am tolerated - I even exceed expectations!"

Jim took the parchment with her exam results and read down it. "You're a troll too!" He held out his own grades for Sam to examine. They'd both got Troll for their Potions and History of Magic exams, and Sam beat Jim at Charms with an Outstanding. They'd both got Exceeds Expectations in Transfiguration, which Jim had also got for Herbology. The rest were Acceptable, which Sam was more than happy with. 

In no time at all they were packed up and on the train home, basking in their success. 

"I think," Jim said as he fed G-Mail a jelly bean, "we did better than the actual main characters."

"How'd you reckon?"

"We defeated Lord Valiant ahead of schedule, we did it with one less person, we won the Cup." Jim ticked the points off on his fingers. "We formed a gang, and we've almost driven Snape to insanity."

Sam couldn't fault his logic. "You know what? You're right." She agreed. "We're awesome."

"The rest of the books are going to be no problem." Jim popped a jelly bean into his mouth - then immediately spat it out in disgust. "Grass flavoured? I fucking hate wizards."

Chapter Text

"Honey, I'm home!" Sam announced as she threw the door open. "Freedom is mine!"

She'd been stuck with the Grangers for an entire month, having been picked up by the enthusiastic duo when she walked through the barrier at King's Cross. It had been a long, boring month of having to return to the house each night, enduring awkward conversation after awkward conversation, because while the Grangers were more than happy to let her spend the entire day with her friend she had to be home by seven and in bed by ten. 

She stuck it out for a month - and she'd finally got the accent perfected in that time - which was only fair considering she'd basically kidnapped their daughter, but she was finally at the end of her rope and thought of a good excuse to escape. It hadn't taken much convincing to let her 'go on holiday with Jim's family'. They'd even given her money for the trip. 

And now she was free, back in their old room at The Spiny Serpent Inn, with the insulting mirror and the Graphorn head on the wall. Everything was as it should be.

Except Jim wasn't alone. 

"You've replaced me?" Sam gasped, dropping her trunk beside the door. Jim and his new best friend looked at her from where they were standing in the middle of the room, apparently mid-argument. The house-elf was staring at her with massive green eyes and Jim looked exasperated.

"Sammy, will you please tell him." Jim sighed, waving a hand in the direction of who Sam could safely assume was Dobby.

"Sure," Sam took a seat on the bed. "The Boy-Who-Lived is a stupid name. He's called The Unkillable Twat."

"Jim The Unkillable." Jim corrected, joining her on the bed and leaning back against the headboard. "You want to sit down too? I have a feeling this is going to take a while."

Dobby promptly burst into tears. 

"S-sit down!" He wailed in a voice reminiscent of a squeaky toy. "Never - never ever -"

Jim looked startled. "Did I offend him? Do they not sit down?" He asked Sam. 

"Offend Dobby!" The elf bawled. "Dobby has never been asked to sit down by a wizard - like an equal! Dobby has heard Harry Potter's greatness, but never of his goodness!"

Sam had to endure an entire minute of Dobby telling Jim how god-like he was before the elf finally sat opposite them, staring at Jim with adoration.

"Right," Sam said once the elf had calmed down. "What's the situation here?"

"He's telling me I can't go to Hogwarts." Jim informed her, and Dobby nodded vigorously, bat-ears flapping with the motion. 

"Harry Potter must not go to Hogwarts!" He insisted in that ear-piercing voice. "There is a plot, Miss! A plot to make the most horrible things happen!" 

"Well, yeah. It wouldn't be a year at Hogwarts without a plot." Sam grabbed the pot of Bertie Botts beans from the nightstand. They'd spent over an hour making a chart of which beans were good and which were disgusting - Sam would never forget the vomit flavoured bean she'd been unfortunate enough to eat - and they now had several boxes of beans separated into good and bad. They would be giving the latter ones to the twins. 

"Dobby cannot let Harry Potter return to Hogwarts!" The elf went on. "Not when history is to repeat itself! Not when the Chamber of Secrets is to be opened once -"

Dobby cut himself off, looking horrified, and started punching himself in the head. 

Sam stared.

"He keeps doing that." Jim told her. 

"Should we stop him?"

Jim sighed and grabbed the elf's wrists, looking completely done with this reverse game of 'stop hitting yourself'.

"Calm down, Dobby." Sam told him, chewing on a cherry flavoured bean. "We know all about the plot, right Jim?"

"Yup." Jim confirmed. Dobby's eyes widened impossibly further. 

"Then Harry Potter knows why he must not return to Hogwarts! Harry Potter -"

"Yeah, no." Jim cut Dobby off. "I'm going."

"Harry Potter must not!" Dobby squeaked, twisting his ears in agitation. "He is the one who defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named! He is a beacon of hope!" Sam choked on her jelly bean "No harm must come to Harry Potter!"

Jim straightened up. "Damn right I am."

"Okay," Sam said once she'd stopped choking. "Look, we know all about the plot, which is why he has to go to Hogwarts." Dobby blinked up at her. "He's the only one who can stop it, isn't that right Jim?"

"Exactly." Jim nodded. "I'm Jim The Unkillable. It's my job to thwart evil."

"We know about the Chamber of Secrets. Everything's under control." Sam assured the elf, then held out the box in offering. "Jelly bean?"

Dobby burst into tears again. 

It took a while to convince Dobby that they knew all about the plot, and after stopping him from giving himself a concussion a few times Dobby finally came around, agreeing that yes, Harry Potter was the only one who could defeat evil and save Hogwarts. He couldn't really tell them anything useful, nor anything they didn't already know, but after he left (apparently to go shut his ears in the oven door) they no longer had to worry about an insane house-elf trying to stop them going to school. 

Telling Dobby they had a plan wasn't a complete lie. The only part that wasn't technically true was the whole 'thwarting evil' part. 

"What would you even do with a giant snake?" Sam demanded to know as they walked down the cobblestones towards The Spiny Serpent. "Where would you keep it? What do giant snakes even eat?"

"People, probably." Jim said as he stopped at the stall that was selling human fingernails. "What are these for?"

"Polyjuice Potion." The tiny, aged witch behind the stall informed him. "Hair is what people usually use, but fingernails are made from the same substance and you're less likely to lose them than a strand of hair. These are from random Muggles."

"That's a cool fact." Sam said. 

"Biology." Jim nodded. "I'll take five."

Sam loved Knockturn Alley. Ask anyone who'd never been there and they'd tell you it was full of murderers, magical STD's and misery that formed a one stop shop for all your nefarious needs. Sure, there were Dark shops, but you could also get your robes fitted and buy magical gardening equipment.

In her opinion, Knockturn was nothing more than a bad estate with few shops and a high unemployment rate, not even half as dodgy as some of the estates she'd lived on in her life. If you wanted something shady it was still your first stop and wearing a cloak and hood was the agreed upon dress code, but the trick was not to be nervous, too well dressed, or show you had anything of value. Act like you belonged and don't show where your money was on your person, because that was just asking to get robbed at knife/wand point. 

"But seriously," Sam said as they moved on. "You don't even know if you can control it. What if only Voldemort can?"

"We'll figure it out." He said dismissively.

After learning that Harry Potter could speak to snakes Jim had dragged her to the nearest pet shop in London to test the ability for himself. He'd spent half an hour having a conversation with a bright red corn snake before they'd been kicked out, and in that time he'd come to the decision that he wanted to control the giant snake that would be on the loose this year. 

There were a few problems with this plan, namely their complete lack of knowledge. The second film had always been Sam's least favourite and Jim was confident he knew exactly what to do because he remembered playing the Chamber of Secrets on the PS2 and refused to believe it wasn't an accurate depiction of events. 

They knew two things: the monster was a big snake, and Voldemort could turn into a book. 

"I think the book was working with Ginny Weasley." Sam offered. "And then there was a sword fight with the snake."

Jim frowned, stopping at the next stall to examine the shrunken heads. "So, in theory, if we follow this Ginny she should lead us to the Chamber."

"It's our best shot." Sam pulled him away from the stall. They were not getting a shrunken head. She didn't want a shrunken head anywhere near her. "We should have a backup plan for if you can't control the snake."

"We kill it. If I can't have it, no one can." Jim said simply. "We've got loads of books, plus an entire library at Hogwarts. It can't be that hard."

Sam, who really couldn't be arsed to read through dozens of books, had a far more simple plan.

She'd just ask. 

"Borgin! My friend, my buddy, my pal!" Sam called out as she pushed open the door to Borgin and Burkes. "I need assistance!"

There was a heavy sigh from the back room, and a couple of seconds later Borgin emerged, looking resigned. "I already told you, I don't know what a gun is."

"Guns schmuns." Sam waved a hand, dismissing that line of conversation. "This is far bigger than firearms - but if you have a bazooka that might work."

Unfortunately for Borgin, his shop was by far the most interesting in Knockturn, and as a result he had two regulars in the form of Sam and Jim; two regulars he couldn't get rid of because they would, occasionally, spend a good amount of money in his shop with Jim's seemingly infinite funds. Jim's most recent purchase had been a shrivelled hand that gave candlelight only to the holder, an instant buy after Borgin had called it 'best friend to thieves and plunderers'. 

"I'm looking for something to kill a giant reptile." Sam said as she wandered over to look at the rusted and bloodstained mace on display. 

"I don't have any dragon hunting equipment." Borgin said long-sufferingly.

"I said reptile, not dragon." Sam's attention was drawn to the opal necklace on a velvet cushion that had a warning label claiming it had taken the lives of nineteen Muggles. "Have you got a really big one of these?" She pointed at the necklace. 

Borgin shook his head as he went over to the counter. "If you and that other little psychopath weren't so good with your gold I would have banned you from my shop a long time ago." He muttered, then sighed. "What kind of reptile are you trying to kill?" 

It looked like it took a lot of effort to ask that question with a straight face. 

"Probably... fifty feet long?" She guessed. "We want to try and talk it down, but if that doesn't work killing it is the best option."

The shop door opened and Borgin looked relieved that he no longer had to deal with Sam for the moment. They both turned to face the newcomer, and Sam grinned. 

"Malfoy!" She said enthusiastically. "Fancy seeing you here!"

Poor Draco Malfoy looked beyond stunned when he recognized who it was under the hood - neither he nor the tall man with the shiniest blond hair Sam had ever seen were wearing hoods, because hiding hair like that would be a sin.

"Please don't bother my customers." Borgin said with another despairing sigh. Sam ignored him. 

"Have you seen this?" She asked Malfoy the younger, pointing at the necklace. "Nineteen people. This necklace is a more accomplished killer than Jack The Ripper. Do you reckon whoever had it just put it in the middle of the path and waited for people to pick it up - like the prank where you glue a quid to the floor and watch people try and get it?"

"Draco." Mr L'Oréal said. "Won't you introduce your friend?"

Malfoy looked like he wanted to do no such thing, but Sam beat him to it anyway. 

"I'm Sam, it's not important. What hair products do you use?"

Mr L'Oréal's eyebrows rose, a look Sam would label 'incredulous disapproval'. Borgin stepped in before Sam could insult who she was guessing was his favourite customer.

"If you're not going to buy anything today will you please go and harass someone else?" He asked, a little pleading. Sam could tell when she wasn't wanted. It happened often enough. 

"Fine, but I'll be back for that necklace." She warned, pointing at the evil jewellery in question. "I reckon I could beat the last person's score." She gave Malfoy a smile. "See you at school, Malfoy. I promise we won't kill the Defence Professor this year. Probably."

As Sam left the shop, Borgin's apologies to Mr L'Oréal following her departure, she wondered if that was a promise she could keep.

Jim might just kill them to keep up the theme.

Chapter Text

"Sammy?"

"No, Jim."

"You don't even know what I was going to say!"

"You want one."

"...But look at them! They're magnificent!"

They were also creepy as hell. 

The creature looked vaguely equine, dark skin stretched tight over its bones with a large, dragon-like head. The wings folded against its back didn't have feathers and were instead black and leathery, like a bat's.

"By all known laws of aviation, there is no way this thing should be able to fly." Sam said, steeping up to stroke the bat-horse's flank. The skin was a bit slippery, so thin that every bone was clearly defined through the entire extension of its body. White, opaque eyes that lacked both pupil and expression stared at Jim as he positioned himself in front of it. Sam eyed the sharp fangs poking out of its mouth. "Watch your fingers, Jim."

"What... are you doing?"

Sam glanced over her shoulder. "We're petting the horse." She said, and the group of students who were waiting to get on the carriage the two of them were preventing from leaving stared at her like she was insane.

"There's nothing there." Seamus McIrish's eyes passed right over the bat-horse like it really wasn't there. 

"Are you blind?" Jim asked. "Look!" He gestured grandly at the bat-horse. "It's beautiful!"

No one else seemed to agree with this, none of their eyes focusing on the strange creature. Sam was starting to become very confused. 

"What's going on here? Why aren't - of course, it's you two." Prefect Farley, accompanied by Prefect Percy, had arrived. 

"What are you doing?" Prefect Farley sounded exasperated. Clearly the summer holidays hadn't done her patience any favours. "You're going to make everyone late for the feast, just get on the carriage."

The bat-horse seemed to agree, because it let out a shrill shriek like some sort of monstrous bird, making both Sam and Jim jump - them, and no one else. "Shhh, good horsey." Jim soothed, running a hand down the creature's head.

"Jim, watch your fingers." Sam advised again, pointing at the gleaming ivory fangs. Jim ignored her. 

Prefect Farley suddenly looked very uncomfortable. "Ah, you... you can see the thestrals..." She said it like some kind of death sentence. Her eyes, like everyone else's, passed right over the bat-horse like it wasn't even there. 

"The horse?" Sam asked for clarification. "Yeah, it's right here." She pat the horse's bony shoulder.

"They're called thestrals." Prefect Percy explained, looking just as uncomfortable as the Slytherin Prefect. "You can only see them if..." he faltered.

"If you've seen death." Prefect Farley finished for him. There was a sudden, grim silence.

"The Sixth Sense, Horsey Edition." Sam intoned gravely. Jim smiled. 

"Good thing we murdered that guy - we never would have known about these otherwise." Jim gave the thestral one last pat. "Come on, Sammy. To the feast!"

No one rode in the carriage with them. 

The feast was uninteresting as far as feasts went, no RAF ghosts or exploding crackers. But there was Gilderoy Lockhart as their new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor.

Sam regretted promising Malfoy they wouldn't kill the Professor after their first lesson with him on Tuesday.

The man reminded her of a golden retriever puppy with his wavy blond hair and endless enthusiasm. A puppy with very shiny teeth. For their first lesson he gave the class a 'little quiz' that was filled with questions that had nothing to do with Defence and everything to do with his autobiography, which neither Sam nor Jim had read - they hadn't purchased a single one of his books, actually. 

It was three pages. Fifty four questions. Jim went from looking pissed to downright murderous the longer the quiz went on. 

"If I still had fire hands..." Jim muttered when they left the classroom. "Please tell me he dies."

"I can't remember." Sam told him regretfully. Jim scowled.

"I'm killing him anyway. Fire hands or no fire hands."

Lockhart continued to sign his own death warrant by hounding Jim, trying to use his Unkillable Twat status to boost his own fame. Sam offered no help, merely stood off to the side and enjoyed the interactions. She wondered if his death would be as gruesome as Quirrell's. Probably. Jim would want to make this one suffer. 

Then, on the 5th of September, the plot started.

"Hey, Sammy?" Jim said suddenly, pulling her to a halt and nearly making the group of third year Slytherins walking behind them crash into them. They were on their way back to the common room after dinner with the rest of their House and were at the entrance to the dungeons when he'd stopped her and effectively blocked the path of everyone following.

"Yes dear?"

"I'm hearing voices."

Sam, along with every Slytherin in hearing range, turned to look at him. He had his head tilted slightly to the side like he was listening to something, a small frown on his face. 

"They saying anything interesting?" She asked, and Jim paused while he presumably listened.

"Rip, tear, kill." He said matter-of-factly, much to the growing alarm of the rest of the Slytherins. Sam pat him on the arm. 

"Glad nothing's changed, Jim."

Sam was fairly certain they were ahead of schedule. She was sure the Chamber was opened on Halloween, because it was always Halloween, but the voice in Jim's head seemed to disagree.

"I'm telling you," Jim was telling her, "it was definitely the big snake. I think it's hungry."

"And I'm telling you the Chamber of Secrets is opened on Halloween. You're just hearing voices, Jim."

"Nope. It's a snake. I know a snake when I hear one."

"You've spoken to one snake, forgive me if I doubt your expertise."

They were currently walking through the corridors under the safety of the invisibility cloak, map held out between them, just like they'd done every night since Jim had heard the mysterious voice. He hadn't heard it since, and Ginny Weasley had yet to act suspicious.

"Halloween, Jim." Sam said surely. "It's always Halloween."

Sam was, of course, proved right on Halloween. They'd stayed to enjoy the feast with the rest of the school, even when they noticed Ginny arriving half an hour late - confirming Sam's other theory - and had both agreed RAF ghosts and dancing skeletons far outweighed the plot. 

They did. It was glorious. 

And so it was that, after the feast, they followed the crowd of students down the first floor corridor where they would all split off for their respective dorms. They rounded a corner and the mass of students suddenly fell silent, and Sam knew they'd arrived at the scene. 

Jim eagerly pulled her to the front of the crowd so they could see the graffiti, and Sam wasn't disappointed. Giant red letters glistened menacingly in the torchlight, reading: THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE. 

Accompanying the message was the caretaker's cat, hanging from the nearest torch by its tail, completely stiff like it was the victim of a rogue taxidermist.

"Spooky." Jim whispered.

"It's definitely sent shivers down my spine." Sam agreed. 

Malfoy was the first to recover from his shock. "Enemies of the heir beware?" He read aloud, sounding a little too gleeful. "You'll be next, mudbloods."

"Hey, Sammy, that's you!" Jim said cheerfully, like this was cause for great excitement.

"What's going on here?"

Filch shoved his way to the front of the crowd. Upon seeing the unfortunate victim he staggered back, eyes wide in horror. "My cat!" He screamed, which attracted the rest of the teachers to the scene. Dumbledore swept through the crowd like Moses parting the sea with McGonagall, Snape, and Lockhart on his heels. 

"My cat!" Filch was still screaming hysterically. "What happened to Mrs Norris? Who did this? Tell me!"

"Argus -" Dumbledore tried to calm the man, but he was interrupted, 

"I'll tell you who did it." Jim announced, drawing the attention of every person in the corridor. "Banksy. There's a hidden meaning."

"Like the Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald skipping with the naked girl." Sam nodded. "It's political."

"What does our government have to say for themselves?"

Filch looked murderous - frothing at the mouth levels of murderous - and the rest of the Professors looked torn between disapproval and incredulous. Even Dumbledore was unusually gave, magic eyes missing their usual twinkle. He moved to detach the cat from the torch bracket.

"Come with me, Argus." He told Filch, then looked at Sam and Jim. "You too, Mr Potter, Miss Granger."

"We didn't do anything!" Jim protested immediately. "I don't think we did." He took a moment, frowning in thought. "I'm almost positive we didn't."

Jim's argument fell on deaf ears, and they had no choice but to follow the Professors to Lockhart's office. They stood of to the side as Dumbledore, vet extraordinaire, examined the cat and pronounced it alive but petrified. Lockhart babbled on about his own experience with dark curses and blah blah blah and Sam tuned the whole thing out, waiting for whatever the hell she and Jim were here for. 

Finally, Dumbledore turned around to regard them. "You must understand that your behaviour is cause for concern." He said seriously. Sam could truthfully say that she did not, in fact, understand. 

"What behaviour." She asked indignantly. "We've been on our best behaviour."

"That's probably what's concerning." Jim pointed out. Fair point.

"Your attitude in the corridor, for starters." Snape said, scowling at them. "Not to mention the rumours circulating that Mr Potter has been 'hearing voices'."

"It's just the one voice, actually." Jim corrected. 

"No luck catching them swans then?" Sam couldn't help but ask. 

"Harry," Dumbledore's voice was calm, soothing. Slightly concerned. "Do these rumours hold any truth? Any at all?"

"Lies and slander." Jim dismissed, waving a hand for emphasis. "I'm the poster child for mental stability." Sam snorted. "Shut up, Sammy. And the thing with the thing?" He pointed towards the door, presumably referring to the racist graffiti. "If it said... I dunno, 'Redrum' or something we'd be spooked - or 'I know what you did last summer'. That's scary."

"Enemies of the heir beware? That's pretentious." Sam added. "Just write 'die, Muggle-borns'."

"Exactly." Jim nodded. "Who even knows what a Chamber of Secrets is? Put some effort in."

Chapter Text

The weeks following the graffiti on the first floor corridor were ripe with tension. Every single copy of Hogwarts: A History had been taken out of the Library by curious students eager to learn what the Chamber of Secrets was, including Sam and Jim. 

It was actually a pretty cool legend. The story went that Salazar Slytherin built a hidden Chamber in the castle that was sealed until his own true heir returned, who would use it to purge Hogwarts of all those who were unworthy to study magic. 

Apparently those unworthy few were a cat and some Gryffindor first year who had an aspiring career with the paparazzi.

Needless to say, Sam wasn't overly concerned about her O-Negative blood being unworthy. She was sure she could do magic better than a cat. 

At least the Slytherins were having fun. With their precious 'pure' blood they were convinced they were in absolutely no danger and were spending their time harassing any student without a pedigree - including Sam, whose attitude they just couldn't comprehend, and she was reminded several times a day that she was on the hit list. 

While the rest of the school were speculating about the Chamber and the monster, Sam and Jim were plotting.

"Why is there a chicken in here?"

"His name is Charles, and he's a rooster." Sam informed Prefect Farley. Charles was standing on the table between her and Jim's homework, pecking at the bits of chopped up vegetables they'd got from the kitchens. 

"Why is it in here?" Prefect Farley repeated.

"We stole him." Jim shrugged. Their research into basilisks had provided them with three very important pieces of information. The first - and in Jim's opinion, the most important - was that spiders abruptly fucked off when they sensed one nearby. Jim had used this as proof that they absolutely needed one because imagine never seeing a spider again, Sammy!

The second was that it was actually really easy to get a basilisk. All you had to do was hatch a chicken egg under a toad and you'd get a killer snake; it was highly illegal and chicken coops in the Wizarding World were regularly inspected in order to thwart basilisk breeding, but Sam doubted that would put Jim off.

The third - and in Sam's opinion, the most important - was that the crow of a rooster was fatal to a basilisk. It had been easy enough to steal one of Hagrid's roosters from the pen near his hut. They were fully prepared for snake hunting. 

"But why is it in here?" Prefect Farley really wasn't about to let this go. 

"Pet owls are allowed." Sam reminded her. "A rooster isn't that different. He can't deliver letters yet, but we're working on it."

"Sure, it might take him a little longer because he has to walk, but you can't discriminate." Jim said. "We believe in equal job opportunities for all birds."

No one bothered arguing with them after that, but they did have to put a silencing charm on poor Charles under the threat he'd be taken to the kitchens to be served for dinner if they didn't shut that bloody chicken up we're trying to sleep!

They were still having little success in finding the Chamber of Secrets. Ginny Weasley continued to be pale and twitchy, which no one else seemed to find suspicious, and stalking her was proving to be a useless endeavour.

Then, mid way through December, they had their first basilisk run in. 

"Sammy!" Jim pulled her to a sudden stop on their way to Transfiguration. "It's the snake!"

Jim set off without another word. Sam mentally upped their odds of dying before the year was up from 70% up to 80 before following after him. "What's it saying?" She asked as he pressed his ear to the wall. 

"It's hungry." He told her, then started hissing. He paused, frowned, then pulled away from the wall looking offended. "Bitch!" He said in English. 

"What?"

"It told me I'm 'unworthy'." He said, scowling at the wall. "I'm not the 'true heir'. What a joke! Where's Charles? We're killing this thing - I'll get my own basilisk, a better one, one that's not racist."

Sam wasn't entirely on board with Jim owning a giant snake that could kill them just by looking at them no matter its prejudices, but nodded anyway. "At least we won't have to fight book-Voldemort for it." She said as they started walking. They were only ten minutes late to class, which wasn't bad for them. "I still want to find this Chamber, though."

"Why?" Jim sounded bored. "We know what's in it."

"It's called the Chamber of Secrets, which implies there's more than one secret." Jim looked pensive. 

"I like the way you think, Sammy." He said. "Oh! Maybe there's a -"

Sam never found out what Jim's prediction was, because when they rounded the corner the scene they stumbled upon completely derailed their conversation.

"I didn't know you could kill a ghost." She eyed the ghost in question; Nearly Headless Nick was floating horizontally in the middle of the corridor, black and smoking like he'd been recently set on fire. A second year Hufflepuff was lying on the floor a few feet away, similarly frozen though he was unburnt.

"Planking gone wrong." Jim said, walking around the ghost in a circle, examining it from all sides. "This snake is useless! It's managed to kill one person who's already dead. My basilisk better not be this stupid."

The door to their right opened with a bang! Sam jumped as Peeves, the poltergeist the school allowed on the premises for God knows what reason, came shooting out of the room. "Sneaky little Slytherins, slithering around!" Peeves cackled as he bounced around them. "What are they up to this time? Why are they lurking -"

Peeves caught sight of the newest 'unworthy' victims. He looked between the two unwilling plankers to the two very guiltily looking Slytherins. Jim pointed at him. "Don't you dare -" 

"ATTACK! ANOTHER ATTACK! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! ATAAAACK!"

"You little shit!"

In the time it took for them to go to and leave Dumbledore's office after being caught at the scene - the Headmaster assuring then that he didn't think they were behind the attacks but if they had anything they wished to tell him now was the time (they didn't) - the entire school came to the conclusion that Jim was the Heir of Slytherin and Sam his evil accomplice.

The Hogwarts rumour mill was the most magical thing in this whole damn school. 

They weren't exactly helping matters. Sam 'accidentally' told the Slytherins about Jim's ability to speak to snakes and after Jim demonstrated this skill to their terrified Housemates the pure-bloods were fearing for their lives along with the rest of the school. Jim would stare at random students, unblinking, mouthing 'you're next' when they caught him staring - even the twins were having fun, following Jim around and telling students to make way for the Heir of Slytherin, warding him of with the sign of the cross. 

All this, along with them being caught at the scene of the crime, Jim's voices, and Sam's lack of concern about her own blood type - it was pretty easy to convince the school Jim was evil. 

"Alright," Jim whispered as they watched Ginny Weasley's little ink figure on the map. "She's where the message is." He pointed to the corridor. "It's got to be there."

Sam frowned. "I think she's just using the bathroom, Jim." She whispered back. They were hidden in an empty classroom in the next corridor; the twins had the cloak which, like the map, was traded between the four of them for whoever needed it most at the time. It was well worth sharing the cloak for the sheer joy of seeing the payoff of whatever the twins had planned. 

Sam's personal favourite was the exploding toilets of '92. She and Jim now owned a few dozen Dr Filibuster's Fabulous Wet-Start No-Heat Fireworks after seeing their effectiveness. 

For emergencies. 

Their lack of cloak meant stalking today was once again limited to following Ginny from a distance with the map, which had been all well and good...

Until her little ink figure disappeared.

"What the fuck?" Jim demanded, frowning. "What the actual fuck? Is this thing malfunctioning? I told you it wasn't accurate."

"The entrance has to be in there." Sam said confidently. "Come on."

Holding Charles under one arm, Sam opened the classroom door and led the way to the bathroom. When they reached the corridor with the racist graffiti they found a new message underneath the first. 

HER SKELTON WILL LIE IN THE CHAMBER FOREVER

"Now that," Jim pointed to the new message, "is what I'm talking about. That's spooky."

The bathroom was empty when they entered, and Jim frowned down at the map. "Okay," he muttered, walking forwards. "She was right... Here." He stopped in front of a sink that looked just like all the others. They examined every inch of it, and it was when Jim tried to turn the tap that they found a tiny snake scratched onto the side of it. 

"Open sesame?" Sam suggested. "I don't know, use your snake language."

Jim spent a few seconds making hissing noises at the sink, then they both leapt back in surprise when the sink suddenly lowered until it was out of sight, leaving a large pipe that was big enough for them to climb into. 

"This brings back memories." Sam peered into the dark hole that greeted them below. "Let me know if you live."

And she pushed him. 

His startled "You bitch!" was left behind as he disappeared into the darkness. A few seconds later his voice echoed up to her, a faint "I lived!" bouncing off the pipe. 

"Ready, Charles?" Sam asked her feathered companion. She seated herself at the edge of the pipe and, clutching the rooster firmly to her chest, pushed off the edge. 

"Oh my God." She complained when she landed on the damp floor a few seconds later. "That's disgusting."

"Tell me about it." Jim was wiping his hands on his robes. "I don't even want to know what I'm covered in." What they were covered in was all manner of grime, completely filthy. Charles looked distinctly unimpressed at the journey, which Sam related to.

"Lumos." She muttered, wand lighting at the tip. Charles, tucked under her arm once more, mutely crowed. "Yeah, light, I know." She told the rooster. "Not yet."

Jim lit his own wand, and the two of them looked around at their surroundings. They were standing in a dark stone tunnel that was littered with small animal bones and a gigantic, vivid green snake skin. 

"That's a good start." Jim muttered, nudging the sin with the toe of his shoe. "It's got to be at least thirty feet."

"Probably bigger, since it's shed." Sam stepped around the skin, crushing tiny bones under her trainers. "Good thing we've got our secret weapon."

The tunnel seemed to go on forever and Sam was quickly becoming bored of walking through the darkness. She sighed in relief when they finally reached a wall with two entwined serpents carved into it. Jim hissed at it and the serpents parted, the wall cracking open with them. The two halves slid to the side, and this had to be the entrance to the actual Chamber.

Sam set Charles down. "Stay." She told him, pulling a handful of chopped carrots from her pocket and scattering them across the floor. "Were counting on you, Charles."

And with that, Sam and Jim stepped into the legendary Chamber of Secrets.

Chapter Text

"Wow." Jim said, voice echoing loudly. "So this is less of a secret chamber and more of a large scale version of his ego."

It was a long stone chamber flanked by massive pillars decorated with more snakes - Sam was beginning to see a pattern - lit in an ominous green like the Slytherin common room. There was a massive floor-to-ceiling statue of a man with a beard that put Dumbledore's to shame, falling to the gigantic stone feet on the floor. This, Sam assumed, was Salazar Slytherin.

They found both Ginny and a small black diary at the base of the statue, the girl lying face down on the cold stone. 

"Is she dead?" Jim asked as they stopped in front of her. Sam tilted her had a little, but she couldn't tell if Ginny was breathing or not. 

"I don't know. Check her pulse."

Jim pulled a face. "I'm not touching a dead body."  

"You burned a man's face off with your hands but you won't check if she has a pulse?"

"You do it."

"I'm not touching a dead body."

"She won't wake."

They both jumped at the voice, finding its source leaning against the nearest pillar.

No.

No way. 

No way was this was the same person as the face that was on the back of Quirrell's head. There was no way this pretty, dark haired teenager was the snake-nosed creepy Halloween mask they'd met last year. Nope. Sam wasn't buying it. 

Neither was Jim. 

"Who the hell are you?" He asked squinting at the boy. He was a little blurry around the edges, but he looked solid.

"My name is Tom Riddle." He said, staring at Jim with intense dark eyes. "I've waited a long time for the chance to meet you, Harry Potter. Little Ginny told me all about you."

"Did she tell you about my fire hands?" Jim asked, wiggling his fingers threateningly in Tom's direction. 

"She knew you were suspicious of her." Tom went on after a curious look at Jim's hands. "She wrote to me, telling me how you were watching her, following her. I knew you'd come for her down here, so I had her write her own farewell message and waited for you to arrive."

"I told you to stop staring at her." Sam hissed, slapping Jim on the arm. 

"You're the one who walked into that suit of armour when we were following her the other day." Jim shot back. 

Even with a magic map and an invisibility cloak they really weren't good at stalking people. 

"I have many questions for you, Harry Potter." Tom said before an argument over who was the worst at stalking could begin. "How is it that a baby managed to defeat the greatest wizard of all time?"

Jim raised his eyebrows. "What? Did something happen to Dumbledore? Did he pick a fight with a baby too? You think he'd know better."

Tom's expression twisted in anger. "Not Dumbledore." He bit out. "Lord Voldemort."

"Okay, riddle me this, why do you care?" Jim sounded bored. Tom gave him a dark smile. 

"I wouldn't want to make the same mistake twice." He said, pulling what Sam was sure was not-dead Ginny's wand out of his pocket. He traced it through the air, writing TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE in shimmering letters, and with a wave of the wand they rearranged themselves.

I AM LORD VOLDEMORT 

Well.

He was the cheap Halloween mask.

How?

Jim didn't look impressed. "Marvolo? That's not a real word." Sam was still staring at the mini Voldemort.

"Why did you get rid of your nose?" She asked. That was the real mystery here. "Is it like those people who get their ears cut off and put horns in their heads? Are you into body mods?"

Tom frowned at her, opening his mouth to speak, but his attention was diverted when Jim picked up the diary. "Put that down!"

"Why? Do you talk about boys in it?" Jim asked, smirking. Tom's face contorted into a snarl and he turned towards the stone Salazar, hissing furiously.

"Oh shit." Jim said when the statue's mouth opened. "Go!"

They sprinted back down the chamber and Sam felt the ground shake as the basilisk hit the stone. She wanted to look behind her and see how big it was because it sounded huge, but she managed to resist the urge. 

She nearly tripped over Charles when they rounded the corner and Jim scooped up the bird into his arms. "Ready?" He asked, pointing his wand at Charles like he was a hostage. 

"Ready." Sam confirmed, gripping her own wand firmly. 

The sound of scale sliding against stone was terrifying, growing louder and louder as the giant snake approached. Clamping her eyes shut, Sam took a deep breath. 

"Finite Incantatem!" She heard Jim cast the spell, unsilencing Charles, and quickly cast her own. 

"Lumos!"

Charles' crow echoed impressively up and down the tunnel, bouncing around off the walls like there were a dozen roosters crowing one after the other.

Then nothing. 

"Sammy?"

"Yeah?"

"Are your eyes still closed?"

"Yep. Yours?"

"Uh huh. Who's going to look first?"

"Rock, paper, scissors?" She suggested, and there was a pause. 

"Okay, go."

Sam held her hand out flat. "Paper." She announced.

"Scissors."

"You're full of shit."

"Yeah? Prove it."

Unable to do so, Sam opened her eyes the tiniest bit, peering through her eyelashes. "That's one big snake." She said, opening her eyes fully. The thing was at least thirty feet long, with dark green scales and fangs as big as her forearm. She couldn't see its eyes with the position it had fallen, which was probably a good thing because she didn't know if they could still kill her. 

Jim opened his eyes now doing so had proved to be non fatal. He let out an impressed whistle. 

"That is a big snake." He grinned at Charles. "See that?" He pointed at the basilisk. "You did that."

Charles let out another crow, presumably one of victory. Jim looked like a proud parent. 

"What now?" Sam asked, and Jim pulled out the diary from inside the pocket of his robes. 

"We kill this." He set Charles on the floor to flip through the diary. "There's not even anything in here." He complained. "What a useless piece of crap." He walked over to the dead basilisk and, grabbing the diary at each end, impaled it on one of the fangs.

There was a distant scream from the Chamber.

"In the game the snake falls on it." Jim told her. 

"I'm pretty sure he stabs it in the film." She said as Jim yanked the diary off of the fang and held it up to examine, pulling a disgusted face. 

"Is it bleeding?" His hands were stained with the black ink dripping from the diary.

"Jim." She pulled a face when he put the bleeding book back in his pocket. 

"It's a token of our victory." He shrugged, and Sam rolled her eyes as she picked Charles up. "Well, I don't think we could have done any better than that."

"It was almost too easy." Sam said as they started walking back the way they came. "Do you think Charles could get a medal or something?"

"He'd better." Jim reached over to scratch the rooster on the head. "He's a hero."

The were almost at the pipe they'd come down when Sam stopped walking. Jim stopped with her, frowning. "What?"

"I feel like we've forgotten something." She glanced back down the tunnel. Jim looked back as well, then shrugged. 

"I'm sure it's not important."

Getting out of the Chamber was a lot harder than getting in, it turned out. 

They weren't supposed to learn the Ascendio charm until third year, but they hadn't been able to resist learning a spell that flung them up in the air and had spent a long time competing who could get the highest off the ground before Jim sprained both his ankles and decided to call it quits. It had been a hard spell to learn and they could only propel themselves about ten feet - which was probably a good thing as Sam liked her legs unbroken - but it was enough for them to reach each pipe branching off in all directions from the one they'd slid down. 

Passing Charles back and forth along the way added an extra layer of difficulty, and Sam nearly went sliding back down the pipe about a dozen times. 

After half an hour of climbing Jim opened the entrance and they climbed out. Sam promptly released Charles and collapsed on the bathroom floor. 

"There has to be an easier way out." She said once she finally had the energy to speak. "How did Voldemort get out?"

"Maybe he rode the snake." Jim said, and she couldn't help but laugh at the thought of Tom Riddle ordering the basilisk to kill people then asking for a lift. 

Covered in grime and ready to sleep for a week, the two of them and Charles finally left the bathroom. Sam absently glanced at the writing on the wall, then stopped.

"Jim," she said, staring at the message. "I know what we forgot."

"What?" He asked, running a hand through his hair and grimacing when his fingers caught in the tangles.

"Ginny."

"Who?"

Sam pointed at the graffiti, and Jim stared at it for a second. "Do we have to?" He whined. "She'll find her own way out."

"Jim, look at the state of us." Sam waved a hand to indicate her current appearance. "If she gets back up here and tells everyone some mysterious vigilante killed the snake and the diary then didn't save her, I think the two people who look like they've just crawled through a sewer are going to be the prime suspects. Especially," she pointed at Charles, "when they have the murder weapon."

Jim groaned. "Fine!" He threw up his hands in defeat as he stormed back into the bathroom. "I hate this hero bullshit."

Sam wholeheartedly agreed, especially ten minutes later when they found Ginny Weasley right where they'd left her, only this time she was awake.

She was also completely useless.

First she hadn't stopped crying, telling them over and over that it wasn't her fault, Tom made her do it, she was sorry. When she finally stopped crying over that she immediately burst into tears again at the sight of the dead basilisk. The then, once she finished crying over that they got to the pipe and she told them she had no idea how to get out. 

Useless.

Luckily, Sam was a pro at the Feather-Light Charm; she'd learned it to use on their school trunks they had to drag to and from the train station, and casting it on Ginny meant she could piggyback on one of them while they repeated the process of flinging themselves from pipe to pipe.

Jim, after losing their game of rock, paper, scissors, had to carry her. 

He was not happy about it. 

After exiting the Chamber for the second time Sam was ready to call it a day, but they still had Ginny following them around like a very tearful lost puppy, so going to bed wasn't an option.

To Dumbledore's office it was. 

The magic escalator stairs to the office were a welcome relief after the few dozen stairs they'd had to climb to reach it, and Sam was so done at this point that she didn't even bother knocking, just opened the door and walked straight in. 

Unfortunately, Dumbledore already had visitors. McGonagall was there, so was Snape, as well as two red heads Sam assumed were Ginny's parents, which was confirmed when the woman who'd been sitting in front of the desk sobbing leapt to her feet with a scream of, "Ginny!"

The Weasley duo ran to their daughter, who was crying again. Sam was getting sick of all these tears. 

"We killed the thing in the place." Jim said, looking as exasperated as Sam felt. "And we killed the book. Can we leave? I need a shower."

They were denied a shower by the Professors, who wanted the extended version, so once again Sam and Jim sat in front of the desk with Charles on Sam's lap to tell their half-true half-bullshit story that they'd had time to prepare during their second trip into the Chamber.

It began with the voice in Jim's head and figuring out it was a basilisk because the guy was obsessed with snakes what else was it going to be? They 'borrowed' a rooster and tried to catch the heir by following the voice - "we couldn't just tell you, what if I was just hearing voices?" Was Jim's explanation for that - and when they saw Ginny go into the Chamber they went down to confront her.

"I mean, we knew something was off." Jim was saying. "We just didn't expect Tim -"

"Tom." Sam corrected. 

"To be Lord Voracious."

"Lord Voldemort." Sam corrected again. 

Mrs Weasley gasped, Ginny started crying again, McGonagall paled so suddenly Sam thought she might faint, and Snape flinched. Dumbledore was the only one who didn't react. Sam wondered if anything could surprise the man - they probably could have told him Voldemort had been wearing nothing but a fez and only spoke in song lyrics and the Headmaster would have nodded like it made perfect sense. 

"Tom Riddle was an exceptional student." Dumbledore said, picking up the diary Jim had reluctantly handed over. "Not many people associate the charming boy who attended Hogwarts fifty years ago with Lord Voldemort." He looked at Ginny. "Tom Riddle has manipulated people far older and wiser than you, Miss Weasley."

"To be fair, he was pretty." Sam commented. Jim looked at her, one eyebrow raised.

"Do you fancy him?" 

"Are you saying you wouldn't shag Tom Riddle?" 

Jim considered that for a moment. "You got me there." He nodded. "He looked better with a nose."

"That's settled then." Sam said cheerfully, clapping her hands. "Voldemort is officially a DLILF."

"A what please, Miss Granger?" Dumbledore seemed to be the only one capable of asking that question, everyone else too busy staring at them in a kind of horrified disbelief.

"Dark-Lord-I'd-Like-To-Fuck." Sam and Jim answered at the same time. 

Snape's sigh was despairing.

The rest of the year flew by now they had no plot to follow. Apparently Lockhart had done a runner when the Professors told him that since he was such an expert (according to his bullshit books) it was only natural he go into the Chamber and save Ginny, seeing as he'd been bragging about knowing the location for months. In the time it took Sam and Jim to go into and come out of the Chamber - twice - Lockhart had disappeared off the face of the earth. 

He wouldn't be missed.

Once again, they found themselves on the train back home, basking in their victory. 

"We're two for two." Jim said cheerfully once the train started moving, Charles sitting happily on the seat beside him next to G-Mail, the two having become best friends immediately. "God, this is piss easy."

Sam couldn't agree more. "And Dumbledore thinks we're awesome. Saving the day two years in a row? We're definitely in his good books. We can do no wrong."

Jim pondered this. "You know, maybe this hero thing isn't so bad."

"So you're going to start helping people?" She asked sceptically. "Rescue a few cats from trees and help little old ladies cross the road?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Sammy." Jim said, rolling his eyes. "All we have to do is make people think we're heroes. Who's going to suspect Jim The Unkillable and his sidekick Sammy when they're such upstanding citizens?" 

"And what are we not being suspected of exactly?"

Jim leaned closer, grinning. "I've got a few ideas."

Chapter Text

"I'm running out of excuses." Sam told Jim, collapsing on the bed in their usual room at The Spiny Serpent Inn. "At some point they're going to catch on that I really don't like them."

"What was it this time?" Jim asked, his attention on the book in front of him. They were a whole year ahead in Charms at this point, already working their way through The Standard Book of Spells, Grade Four. Professor Flitwick was under the impression that they were Charms prodigies, which was better than him suspecting them of illegally using magic outside of school. 

"I told them I was staying with my new, unnamed friend for the rest of the summer. They're way too excited about me making more friends."

Jim scoffed. "God, your fake-parents are sad." He pointed his wand at the cup on the bedside table. "Accio." The cup flew towards him, then dropped halfway across the room. "This spell is doing my head in."

"Accio." Sam pointed her own wand at the cup and it flew into her waiting hand. Jim was unimpressed.

"Expelliarmus!"

Sam's wand was yanked out of her hand and Jim smirked. Sam lunged at him. 

Once Sam had her wand back and they'd called a truce, Jim asked, "So, where are we in the series?"

"Prisoner of Azkaban." Sam said, falling onto the bed once more. "Which is good, because it's my favourite film."

"So you're actually going to be useful?"

Sam hit him with the stinging jinx. The battle continued.

It was midway through July when Sirius Black escaped from prison, and if Sam hadn't known better she would have thought he was a deranged psychopath from his mugshot alone. 

Unfortunately, Black's escape brought a whole new problem, one they found out about when they ventured into Diagon Alley to get some ice cream and were accosted by a very angry Professor McGonagall.

"Of all the reckless, foolish things you two have done, this might be the worst!" The Transfiguration Professor ranted as she dragged Sam and Jim along behind her, an iron grip on each of their arms while they struggled to keep up with her brisk pace. "And considering your record, that is saying something! Knockturn Alley! In all my years I've never met two children with such a disregard for their own safety! What were you thinking?!"

Oh yeah, they were in deep shit. 

The Dursleys had not, thankfully, told the Professors that Jim hadn't lived with them for years (most likely to save their own asses for not reporting a missing eleven year old) and told the Professor who'd gone to keep watch on the Dursley house in case Sirius Black turned up to kill Jim - then realized he wasn't actually there - that Jim had gone to stay with a 'friend from school'. This prompted the Professor to go to Sam's house, where her fake-parents gave the same story. 

The Professors had been searching for them ever since, posting up in Diagon Alley on the assumption they'd appear at some point to purchase their school supplies. McGonagall had been the one on watch at the time and caught up to them just as they reached Knockturn and Jim - the idiot he was - told her they needed to get back to their flat to feed the birds.

Idiot.

"We're going to lose our deposit." Jim complained. McGonagall's expression was so furious Sam actually thought she might throttle him. 

They were dragged all the way through Diagon, into the Leaky Cauldron, then over to the massive fireplace. Sam was sure McGonagall was going to barbecue them right there in front of witnesses, but she grabbed a handful of ash from the large pot on the mantle and threw it into the flames, which turned a bright green. 

Sam was thankful that she didn't burn to death when McGonagall pushed her into the fire.

She still hated it. 

She was spat out of a different fireplace, landing sprawled on the floor. She didn't have time to examine her surroundings before Jim came flying out of the fire a second later and collided with her. Sam swore she heard the fireplace give a disgusted cough.

The feeling was mutual.

McGonagall stepped out of the flames as elegant as ever. 

"Ah, Minerva. You managed to find them." 

Sam looked up at the voice and found Dumbledore looking down at them. Snape was also there, looking irritated at having to be present for this - Sprout and Flitwick were there too, sitting at the table in the middle of the room. This had to be the staffroom.

"Do you lot live here or something?" Jim asked, looking around at the Heads of Houses.

"I did indeed." McGonagall glowered at Sam and Jim as they got to their feet. "I found them on their way to Knockturn Alley."

Oh, this was not good. 

Predictably, the other Professors looked alarmed. Except Dumbledore, who simply raised his eyebrows, still managing to project pure calm. "Knockturn Alley?" He repeated, and McGonagall's lips disappeared as she pressed them together in anger. 

"Yes." She said, seething. "Returning to their flat."

Now Dumbledore lost the calm aura. He pinned the two of them with an intense look. 

"It's really not that bad of a place." Jim said before Dumbledore could speak. "We've lived there for years without any problems, I don't see why - ow!" Jim clutched his shin where Sam had kicked him, but the damage was done. 

"Years?!" McGonagall was even more furious. "You've been living in Knockturn Alley for years?"

"Nice one, Jim." Sam muttered, and decided to take over. "He's not wrong, it's not as bad as everyone thinks; it's a shady neighbourhood, sure, but if you know what you're doing you won't have any problems."

Jim nodded his agreement. "Most of the people there just mind their own business. If you don't bother anyone they won't bother you."

Dumbledore sighed. "Harry," he said, calm again. "You'll have to return to Privet Drive. Your Aunt and Uncle -"

"No."

Jim stared at the Headmaster with the flat, unblinking gaze of a shark. It was a look Sam had seen many times before, and it was a look that had been the precursor to many court proceedings. She stood back to watch this play out, wishing she had popcorn.

Dumbledore blinked, looking a little startled at the sharp tone. "Harry, I understand that you -"

"No." Jim cut him off again. Dumbledore sighed once more. 

"I understand that you may not get along with your relatives -"

"Okay, I don't 'not get along' with them, I actively despise them and if I spend five more minutes in that house I'm going to break the underage magic rule to kill them and then myself."

"He's not joking." Sam informed them. 

"Call my bluff." Jim dared. "See what happens."

Snape's eyes narrowed. "You want us to believe you're capable of murder?" Jim gave him that same flat look he'd been directing at Dumbledore. 

"Try me."

"Harry -"

"Nope." Jim shut the Headmaster down swiftly. "I'm giving you a warning right now. Don't think I won't take myself out to make a point - I'll kill Sammy, too." Sam shrugged. "The Boy-Who-Died has a nice ring to it, don't you think, Sammy?"

"The Killable Twat."

"Jim The Killable."

"Never mind you not knowing what we're capable of - we don't even know what we're capable of." Sam gestured between her and Jim. "Dying? We'll do it just for the inconvenience it'll cause." Jim nodded. 

"We're here to have a good time -" 

"And we're currently feeling attacked."

"- and couldn't give less of a shit about anything else. Our priorities go like this; have fun, learn magic, piss people off." Jim ticked them off on his fingers. "Not dying? That's not on the list. So if you think we won't off ourselves to get back at you, you haven't been paying attention."

"Calm down Lord Bolton." Sam muttered, and Jim snorted.

Silence. Utter, horrified silence. Jim, unconcerned, smirked. "Do it. See what happens."

Dumbledore managed to mask his alarm quickly, but Sam hadn't missed the dark look that passed over his face. It was the kind of look that went over children's heads, but Sam had been looking for it. 

Oh, he's finally starting to get it, Sam thought, smirking a little herself. She'd been wondering how long it would take for someone to catch on.

"I suppose," the Headmaster said slowly, "a compromise is in order."

Chapter Text

Albus Dumbledore was troubled. 

There were a great many reasons for this, all of which had occurred in only one short day, and all of his concerns revolved around two people. 

The pair had lied to him many times, and they were the most honest liars he'd ever met. They didn't outright fabricate their stories, but they were remarkably adept at twisting the truth into what they thought everyone wanted to hear. Not a complete lie, but the way they left certain things out, details omitted or swiftly glossed over to make them seem unimportant, was incredibly telling.

As was their attitude.

It was something that had concerned him before, though only ever in passing. A formidable pair: intelligent, irresponsible, impulsive. It was clear that they grew bored easily, always chasing their next thrill, pushing the limits. The only thing they seemed to care about was each other, the two of them against the world, like nothing and no one else mattered.

Their relationship with almost everyone they came into contact with was mainly antagonistic, oftentimes uncompassionate. They seemed to have an imperviousness to any negativity directed at them - revelled in it, even - challenging and provoking others to the point that most students tended to avoid them at all costs. 

There were no rules. The world was at their fingertips and they would simply reach out and take what they wanted. 

At first he'd thought Hermione Granger to be the more rational of the two; he could see it in the way she seamlessly changed their story when Harry clearly went off script, an uncanny ability to back up any absurd statement he made with such confident rational that Albus almost believed the two were on the same page. 

He's assumed her role to be an enabling one, content to merely follow Harry's lead, but the more he'd seen of their interactions the clearer it became that she was not enabling, but turning Harry's more absurd actions into ones they could reap the benefits of. 

Harry's thought process was much harder to follow - in fact, Albus was fairly certain the boy lacked the capacity for rational thought. Every decision was acted on a whim, an idea that was set in stone the moment it came to him. 

They were children, he understood that, but while one would expect their view of the world to be limited it was more than that. 

They were not ruled by their emotions like most adolescents, and it wasn't delusions of being indestructible that had them running headfirst into danger with little to no regard for their own safety. They understood their actions and knew what others expected of them, knew how they should present themselves, and they could put on that persona.

They were everything Slytherin House valued; cunning, resourceful, following their own moral code with no care for black and white. The two of them lived in shades of grey and were fully capable of dipping into darker hues.

But while they'd lied to him plenty, today they'd been entirely, unflinchingly honest. 

For a moment, Albus had been transported back to another conversation he'd had with another young boy who'd given him the same blunt truths with cold detachment.

If I spend five more minutes in that house I'm going to break the underage magic rule to kill them and then myself.

I can make bad things happen to people who annoy me. I can make them hurt if I want to. 

In that moment, Albus had been talking to Tom Riddle.

Now he'd seen it, he couldn't help but make more connections between the two boys. Charismatic, confident, lying in such a way that made you sound foolish for questioning him. Slytherins right down to their bones. 

But while Tom had always had goals, a thirst for power with carefully laid plans of how to get it, Harry simply couldn't plan that far ahead, only focused on the here and now. A boy with no goal, no long term plan, was unpredictable in a way Tom never was. 

Tom had been fully capable of hurting, and then killing those who opposed him, and Harry had expressed his ability to share that willingness. But for all his belief that he was untouchable, unmatched, Tom was terrified of one thing. Dying.

Harry Potter was not. 

Neither was Hermione Granger.

Tom had his loyal followers, but he didn't have anyone he trusted completely, anyone who would encourage him or challenge him on any kind of level. Harry and Hermione's relationship was built on testing each other's limits as much as it was loyalty, a terrifying possessiveness and disturbing co-dependency. They tore at each other as much as they did others, grinning like it was a game and nothing more. 

Albus was sure that if the two were separated they would spiral out of control, burn themselves out without the other to fan the flames. 

Love was a powerful magic.

And it made them more dangerous than Lord Voldemort could ever be. 

Chapter Text

Having free reign of Hogwarts was well worth the two hour lecture from McGonagall about living in Knockturn Alley. Sam wasn't sure if Dumbledore had decided to keep them at the school for the rest of the summer to keep Jim 'safe' from Sirius Black or because he wanted to keep an eye on them after catching a glimpse of their true colours, but she didn't really care. 

Dumbledore seemed to be a permanent resident here, though he was off doing Dumbledore-things most of the time, but the other Heads of Houses came and went. There was always someone keeping an eye on them - except Snape, who refused to go near them - but since they spent most of their time in the library they were left alone to study like the good little students they were. 

They really should be keeping a closer eye on them. 

Without the librarian who could only communicate in shushing noises, they had access to the entire library, including the Restricted Section.

A specially signed note from one of the Professors was required to look at any of the books in there - which they'd never get, not in a million years - so they debated sneaking in under the cloak. They'd held off on doing so in case there were spells that would keep them out or alert someone that they'd entered. 

There wasn't. They literally just stepped over the rope closing it off. 

There were some really interesting books. There were some really disgusting books. Sam now knew more methods of killing someone than she could have imagined, some hilarious and some so disgusting and detailed that she'd slammed the book closed before she threw up. 

Jim had been making extensive notes from each book he read and Sam didn't even want to know. 

But reading wasn't all Jim had been doing. 

"Jim The Unkillable and The Hands of Fire." Sam read when she leaned over to see what he was writing. "Does that count as plagiarism?"

Jim shrugged. "It's my autobiography."

Sam pulled the notebook towards her, ignoring his noise of protest. "'And then Jim The Unkillable, the saviour of the Wizarding World, a beacon of hope, used his fire hands to kill the Dark Lord' - you've spelled Voldemort wrong." She informed him, handing the notebook back. 

"Who cares?" He said dismissively, going back to writing. "It's a stupid name anyway. Now, Tim The Immortal - that's a real name."

"His name's Tom."

"I'm pretty sure it's Tim."

"It's not." 

"Jim The Unkillable versus Tim The Immortal. Tell me you wouldn't read that book."

"The Unkillable Twat and The Dark Lord Under The Hat." Sam offered. "That's a book I'd read. Actually," she turned a page in her own notebook, "I want in on this."

Once upon a time there was a twat who couldn't be killed, she wrote. Our story begins with a Dark Lord who was not yet hiding under a turban, trying and failing to kill a baby...

When they weren't reading evil books or writing plagiarised books, they were planning their next move.

Plans A through C were scrapped; capturing Pettigrew straight away would bring up way too many questions about how they knew Ron Weasley's pet rat was a mass murderer with no proof whatsoever, and while they could claim they saw his name on the map that risked it being confiscated and they weren't about to lose one of their prized possessions. Capturing him and dumping him somewhere that someone would stumble across him might have worked if they weren't always the prime suspects when anything weird happened.

So, plan D it was. 

"Ugh." Jim slumped in his seat. "That's it? We just wait?"

"It's not like we know where he is." Sam pointed out. "We might be able to find him on the map, but we know when he actually turns up."

"When he attacks the Gryffindor Tower gif." Jim nodded. "When does he do that, anyway?"

"Halloween." Sam said confidently. "It's always Halloween."

Jim frowned. "Can we get away with missing the feast? Dumbledore's going to be keeping an eye on us, right?"

"Yup." Sam was certain he was, anyway. "But we've got time to come up with a good excuse - one we'll stick to if he questions us." She added pointedly. Jim rolled his eyes. 

"Yeah, yeah, I know." He leaned his head back and closed his eyes. "No ghost hunting."

"No ghost hunting."

By the time term started they still hadn't come up with a good enough excuse. All anyone was talking about at the feast was the Dementor that had boarded the train, and despite everyone claiming it was the worst thing to happen to them in the history of forever, Jim was upset he'd missed it. 

"I want to know what my worst memories are." Jim complained as he pulled apart a chicken leg. "Seriously, I don't think I have any. I have no regrets. My life is perfect."

"How about that time you broke your leg trying to steal a motorbike?" Sam offered, but he shook his head. 

"No, that was fun."

"The season finale of Dexter?"

"Eh, I didn't mind it."

"Getting stuck in Luton Airport when our flight got delayed?"

"It wasn't that bad."

"It was Luton, Jim."

Jim tilted his head at her. "What's your worst memory, then?"

"Getting stuck in Luton Airport."

By the time Dumbledore stood up to make his speech they still hadn't come to an agreement on whether Luton Airport was worse than Jim getting out of the shower and finding a spider on one of the towels. 

This year, they had Werewolf McWerewolf as their Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor.

"Remus Lupin?" Jim asked as soon as the rest of the House had left the common room to go to bed that night. "And he just happened to get bit by a werewolf?"

"If you were a werewolf and heard about someone named Remus Lupin, wouldn't you go and bite him purely for the irony?" 

"Good point." He said, then brightened. "Doesn't he do that thing with the Snape copycat?"

"The Boggart!" Sam snapped her fingers, very proud of herself for remembering that. "Turns into your worst fear."

Jim grinned. "Finally! I can find out what my ultimate weakness is and destroy it." He said, looking thrilled at the prospect. "One step closer to being completely invincible. All we have to do is find another immortality stone and I really will be unkillable. Let's see Tim deal with that."

Being from the future(ish) it was only natural Sam and Jim pick Divination as one of their classes this year. 

It was the best decision they'd ever made. 

Everything about the class was just a level of weird Sam would have expected of a magic school; there were no desks, only small round tables surrounded by little armchairs, and the shelves on the walls were full of feathers, crystal balls, teacups, and tarot cards. The whole room was bathed in a dim red light and there was a large copper kettle in the fireplace.

"This is so fucking weird." Sam said, looking around the bizarre attic-teashop room. "I love it."

She loved their Professor even more. The woman emerged from the shadows dramatically, dressed in a colourful shawl with dozens of chains and beads around her neck and even more bangles and rings on her wrists and fingers. With the massive glasses magnifying her eyes five times their normal size she looked like a dragonfly that had taken human form. 

Her welcome speech was even better than Snape's, spoken in a soft and mysterious voice. Throughout the speech she interrupted herself to throw out random and vague predictions at students, who looked alarmed at receiving their warnings. 

Sam didn't get a prediction.

She was not happy about it. 

Their first lesson was reading tea leaves. Professor Trelawney had them each grab a teacup and fill it at the large kettle, then drink the tea so they could read the soggy remains at the bottom of the cup. Jim took one sip off his tea, spat it back into the cup, then tipped it out underneath the table. Sam rolled her eyes and took a sip of her own tea. 

It joined Jim's under the table. 

"Alright," Sam said when she and Jim swapped cups. "You have a feather..." She consulted her copy of Unfogging The Future. "That's the symbol for lack of concentration." She looked up and found Jim rearranging the leaves in the bottom of her cup with his finger, not listening to a word she said. "Shit, this is accurate."

"Broaden your minds, children!" Trelawney cried. "Allow your eyes to see past the mundane!"

Sam loved this class. 

Jim, finally done with the leaves, looked up at Sam gravely. "Sammy," he said, voice as grave as his expression. "You have..." he turned the teacup around for her to see into. "Death."

Sam looked at Jim's artwork. "Is that a donkey?"

Before she could examine it further Trelawney, who had whirled around at Jim's announcement, swept over and snatched the cup from Jim. The woman looked at the donkey, gasped, then screamed. 

Jim looked like he was trying hard not to laugh as the Professor collapsed into an armchair, hand over her heart. "My dear - you - no, it is kinder not to say - don't ask me."

"Are we going to the beach again?" Sam asked Jim as the rest of the class gathered around Trelawney to get a look at Sam's cup. "Where they had those donkey rides?"

Jim shook his head solemnly. "You're never going to the beach again, Sammy."

"My dear," Trelawney said, just as solemn - though she wasn't taking the piss like Jim. "You have... The Grim."

The class gasped dramatically, some of them putting their hands over their mouths in horror.

"The omen of death, Sammy." Jim told her, still grave. 

"Death doesn't ride a pale horse." Sam said, just as serious. "He rides a donkey."

Jim lost his battle with laughter. "You're dead, Sammy!" The rest of the class stared at him with so much shock that Sam started laughing too.

Trelawney let them go half an hour early so she could go and lie down. 

They had Defence Against the Dark Arts with the Hufflepuffs, which meant they didn't get the joy of seeing Boggart-Snape in a dress. When Lupin instructed them to think of the thing that scared them the most and imagine how to make it funny, Sam drew a blank. 

Sharks were not funny. 

The lesson was like some bizarre nightmare. Sam watched the Boggart cycle through people's fears, changing with a sound like a whip-crack each time - snakes, spiders, mummies, vampires - and turning into humorous versions of each one. Snakes became modelling balloons, spiders lost their legs or ended up on rollerskates, mummies became piles of toilet paper. Sam felt like she was on acid. 

By the time it reached her, Sam had yet to find a way to make a shark funny, so she grabbed Jim's shoulders and shoved him at the Boggart.

Jim stumbled, stopping short of literally crashing into the thing. The Boggart - currently a vampire with a pair of overly-large false teeth - looked at him, Lupin rushed forwards, and - 

Crack!

Sam, along with the rest of the class, stared at the big TV playing static. "Mainstream media?" She guessed as the rest of the class started whispering (she heard at least five people trying to explain what a television was to the pure-bloods) and even Lupin had stopped to stare at the TV in confusion. 

The static cleared for a second and Sam caught a glimpse of a stone well in the countryside before it returned to static. "Really, Jim?" She asked, but Jim was staring at the TV, transfixed, as the image cleared again. This time there was a small girl in a dirty white gown climbing out of the well, long dark hair obscuring her face. 

The whispers increased in volume as the image flickered to static, and when the picture cleared again the girl was directly in front of the screen. A grey, decaying hand reached right through the monitor and landed on the floor at Jim's feet, water spreading out towards his trainers.

That was enough to snap him out of it. 

"The Ring girl!"

Jim completely forgot the incantation in his haste to back away from the girl, who was crawling straight out of the television. Now the class was screaming. 

"Oh fuck this!" Jim grabbed Sam's hand and ran for the door. They didn't stop running until they were two corridors away, and even then they kept walking. There was no way Sam was returning to that classroom. Nope. 

"Well, I'm going to be having nightmares for the next month." She said, unable to resist the urge to look behind her, half expecting the girl to come running round the corner after them. "The Ring?" Jim shuddered.

"I hate that bitch."

Something occurred to Sam then, and she pulled him to a stop. "You know that film hasn't been made yet?"

Jim blinked at her, surprised. "Huh..." he said, then grinned. "How easy do you think it'll be to convince people she actually exists?"

Sam grinned back. "Too easy."

Chapter Text

"What are they doing in here?"

Sam looked up to find the owner of the voice. She didn't recognize him, which wasn't a surprise seeing as she didn't recognize most people in here. She didn't spend much time in the Gryffindor common room.

"Right now they're plotting." Fred told the boy, waving a hand in dismissal.

"Very important business." Jim assured him. 

"Nothing to worry your little head about it, Wood." George added.

"Go about your day as usual." Sam finished.

There was a stunned, sightly disbelieving silence. 

"Right..." Wood said after a moment. "That doesn't explain why they're here."

"We can't use our common room." Jim said, not looking up from his notes. "We're barely allowed in our common room."

"I like this room better. No lake." Sam held her hand out towards the closest twin. "George, pass me that parchment - no, not you, the other George."

Sam had found the perfect way to tell the twins apart: she just called them whichever name she thought was right. She had a 50/50 chance, and she was sure she got it right sometimes, but they never corrected her so she had no way of knowing. Jim had the uncanny ability to tell them apart but he refused to share his secret with her. 

"Relax, Wood." George said when Wood opened his mouth. "These two are our best allies for winning the House Cup." 

"They lose more points for Slytherin in a week than they can gain back in a month." Fred added.

Sam gave him an indignant look. "Lies and slander."

"How many points have you lost today?" George asked. Jim shrugged.

"Only twelve."

"Seventeen." Sam corrected, and Jim frowned at her. "Snape took five off me at the end of Potions."

"Why?" 

"I asked him how his football career was going."

"See?" Fred pointed at her. "They're pretty much working for us at this point. They're honorary Gryffindors." 

"And Snape hates them more than any Gryffindor." 

"He loves us." Sam said, offended. "His life would be empty without us in it." 

Jim snorted. "Sammy, he hates you with a burning passion."

"He hates you more."

"Nope." Jim rocked back on the rear legs of his chair. "You're the one who broke his leg." 

"You started the Sherbet Lemon resistance."

"You tipped a jar of slugs on him."

"You ate six of his bezoars."

"They cure poisoning. If I eat enough of them I can make myself immune. Jim The Unpoisonable."

"The Unpoisonable Twat."

"Unkillable, invisibility, Potter-Senses, fire hands - if I add unpoisonable I'm one step closer to being completely unstoppable."

"Fire hands?" Fred asked, and Jim grinned. 

"I melted Quirrell's face." He said proudly.

"In our defence," Sam said when everyone stared at him in horror. "He cheated at the giant chess game and was going to steal the immortality stone from the Mirror of Wohsi."

Jim nodded, going back to his plotting. "The bitchy trampoline on the back of his head told him to kill me, but my f - my dear mother jumped in the way of a Killing Curse and gave me superpowers."

"Is The Power of Love or Can't Touch This more appropriate?" Sam asked, and Jim thought for a moment. 

"Ring of Fire."

"Love is a burning thing." Sam grinned. "Right, you've got your theme song. Now all you need is a costume and you're good to go!"

The Gryffindors looked appropriately terrified. 

Their plotting with the twins was part of their other plot; a prank with the twins during the Halloween feast created the perfect alibi for missing it, and they'd rather get detention for the prank than be suspected of their real reason. 

The prank was a simple one, pretty harmless, more of a mild annoyance; a few packs of balloons and the Doubling Charm (or the ctrl-C, ctrl-V Charm, as Jim called it) and they could fill a whole room with balloons in under ten minutes. The twins would start in the dungeons and Sam and Jim on the seventh floor, and they'd work their way towards the middle to fill as many rooms as possible. 

It was the perfect opportunity, and they'd even gotten Peeves in on it, distracting Filch on the third floor to keep him from interrupting their fun. The Gryffindor common room was on the seventh floor, so they could do a few rooms while they waited for Sirius to show up. They'd opted for the cloak and let the twins have the map, seeing as they knew where Sirius was going to be and needed to transport him. 

All they had to do was wait. 

They'd filled four rooms with balloons when they heard shouting coming from the direction of the Fat Lady.

"Finally!" Jim said, dropping the balloon he'd been duplicating in room number five. "The plot!"

They found Sirius Black standing in front of the entrance to the Gryffindor common room, holding a knife and staring at the tattered bits of canvas at his feet like he couldn't believe what he'd just done - he didn't even notice them until Jim said, "That was a bit drastic."

Sirius whirled around, eyes wide, and froze at the sight of Jim. He opened his mouth, closed it, then just stared.

"The password was Wattlebird, by the way." Sam informed him, looking at the ruined portrait. "Can portraits die? Are they even alive? I need answers."

"Here," Jim threw the cloak at him. Sirius' hands came up to catch it automatically, and then he just stood there clutching the cloak and knife to his chest. "Put it on, then."

After starting at Jim in mute shock for a moment, Sirius did as instructed. Jim nodded at the place he'd disappeared.

"Come on," he said, heading towards the staircase. "You can help."

Sam could feel Sirius' confusion, but she heard his footsteps as he obediently followed after them, probably too stunned to do anything else. They stopped on the sixth floor and entered the first classroom they came across, Sam holding the door open for the invisible Sirius and pulling it closed once she was sure he was inside. 

"Do you have a wand?" Jim asked, pulling the pack of balloons out of his pocket. When he didn't receive a reply he looked around the room. "He did come with us, didn't he?"

Sirius pulled off the cloak - giving Sam a minor heart attack when he appeared right next to her - and continued to stare at Jim like he was a ghost. 

"He can use mine." Sam offered, pulling out her own pack of balloons. "He's an adult, he can probably cast it quicker."

"Uh... what?"

Sam, in the middle of pulling out a pink balloon, glanced over at Sirius' confused question. He looked nothing like Gary Oldman, which wasn't a surprise at this point seeing as no one looked anything like their film counterpart - he looked, quite frankly, like shit; face gaunt and sunken, waxy skin and long, matted hair. He was so thin Sam was sure a strong breeze could take him out. 

"You need to eat more." She told him, and he turned that bewildered stare on her. "No, really, I'm afraid to breathe too close to you in case I blow you over."

"We'll go to the kitchens tomorrow." Jim said as he tied the end of his balloon, and Sirius was staring at him again. 

"Do... Do you know who I am?" The escaped convict asked warily, like he didn't want them to suddenly realize he was Sirius Black. Jim snorted.

"It's kind of hard not to when we see your face on the front page every day." 

"You need a better mug shot." Sam said once she finished blowing up her balloon. "You look like a nutcase in that one."

Sirius continued to stare at them.

Finally, he asked, "What are you doing?" 

"Filing up the classrooms with balloons." Jim shrugged, pulling out his wand. "We weren't finished upstairs, so you can help us seeing as you ruined it." He glanced at the knife in the man's hand. "Keep that away from the balloons."

Sirius followed Jim's gaze, looking surprised like he'd forgotten he was still armed, and quickly dropped the knife.

"Do you know the Doubling Charm?" Sam asked. Sirius didn't answer, just stared at her, mute. "It's a fifth year spell, we learned it just for this - Jim can cast it better."

Sirius blinked at her. He really wasn't a good conversationalist. "Jim?" He asked slowly. Jim gave him a little wave. "You... You go by Jim?"

"Jim The Unkillable."

"The Unkillable Twat."

Sirius looked between the two of them like they were speaking a different language. "What?"

This was going to take a while. 

After filling three more rooms with balloons (Sirius, after he had his little moment, could cast the spell a lot quicker) they hid Sirius in the Slytherin common room before the feast ended, making him sit at their table in the corner of the room under the invisibility cloak with the assurance that no one would go near the 'cursed table'. They got to the feast just as everyone was leaving, the twins getting there at the same time.

They didn't know if their absence was noticed or not, because as soon as they got to the common room with the rest of their House they were called back to the Great Hall where they had to sleep for the night while the Professors searched the castle for Sirius. 

They didn't find him. 

The next day they picked Sirius up and, after a quick detour to the kitchens to grab some food, they found an empty classroom on the third floor so Sirius could tell them his story. 

"So what you're saying is a crossword puzzle saved your life."

Sirius stared at Jim for a moment. "That... That's what you got from all that?"

'All that' being the entire plot of the book; Sirius escaped Azkaban after seeing Pettigrew in a Daily Prophet article - a photo of the Weasleys on a trip to Egypt, which Sam only knew about because the twins told them how they'd tried to trap Prefect Percy in a pyramid - because the Minister of Magic gave him the newspaper because he liked doing the crossword puzzles. He slipped through his cell door in his Animagus dog form when the Dementors were bringing his food in (which had Sam interrupting his story by laughing at the mental image of Dementors dressed up like waiters bringing in the food) and swam across the sea to come to Hogwarts and commit the murder he'd been imprisoned for. 

So yes, a crossword puzzle had saved his life. 

"Okay," Jim, sitting cross-legged on the teacher's desk, clapped his hands. "All we need to do is get the rat."

"Easy enough." Sam shrugged from where she was lying across one of the desks, legs dangling over the edge. "We can just ask the twins to get him." Jim pursed his lips in thought. 

"You reckon they'll let us kill their little brother's pet?"

"They tried to kill Prefect Percy in Egypt." She reminded him. "And we won't tell them what we're doing with it, just tell them we need a rat."

Jim nodded. "Sounds good. How many years do you get for murder?"

"Life, Jim."

"That's a shame." He turned to Sirius. "Better not kill him, then. I was thinking because you've already done your time for killing him there's no reason to put you in prison again."

"You could probably do a couple of arsons." Sam said. "Maybe a burglary."

Sirius looked between the two of them like he couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You... what's wrong with you two? Do you even... bloody hell." He ran a hand down his face. "You know, I thought it was insane that you just asked an escaped convict to help you blow up balloons, but now I get it. You're actually insane."

"Pot calling the kettle insane." Sam said, kicking her heels against the desk. "You helped two kids blow up balloons after breaking into a school to murder a man."

"Yup. If anything you're worse than us. We've never tried to murder anyone." Sam turned her head to give Jim an incredulous look. "What?"

"You literally murdered someone."

"When?"

"Quirrell." 

"Oh shit, yeah." He looked at Sirius again. "Never mind, we're worse. So, what do you want to set on fire?"

"What?!"

Chapter Text

It really was too easy.

All it had taken for the twins to hand deliver Pettigrew to them was saying they needed a rat for what was quite possibly the most important prank of their lives and yes, they needed that specific rat and no, they weren't going to kill it. 

The twins didn't even question what they were doing or why they needed their brother's rat in particular, just told them to give them a couple of days to steal it. 

While they waited for their delivery, they spent time with Sirius. He was delighted to find that they were in possession of the Marauder's Map, which he and the other Marauders - Jim's fake-dad, Pettigrew, and Werewolf McWerewolf, what a small world - had created and then lost to Filch in their final year at Hogwarts.

This, of course, led to many an argument over which crew was superior while comparing pranks and a shared love of torturing Snape - who Sirius had been horrified to learn was a Professor, in contrast to how hilarious he found Lupin being a Professor, laughing for a solid minute about "Professor Moony!"

It only took the twins three days to hand over Pettigrew.

Armed with their proof, they decided to wait until there was a staff meeting so they could do a dramatic reveal.

Sirius' plan of just going to Dumbledore was outvoted two to one. He asked them to at least rehearse what they were going to say, but after they changed their lines each of the five times they practiced he'd given up and agreed to let them do it their way. Really, he had no say in the matter. They had the proof, so they made the rules. 

On Thursday night after dinner they made their way to the staffroom with Sirius following in dog form.

Jim burst into the room with such dramatic flair that Lockhart would have been jealous, Sam and the dog right behind him. The teachers stopped their discussion and looked up at the interruption, and Snape's sigh was so irritated that he didn't need any inflection when he asked, "Why do you two feel it is appropriate to disrupt a staff meeting?" He caught sight of the large, mangy dog and his expression twisted into disgust. "And why have you brought a dog?" 

Lupin paled at the sight of the dog, which was busy glaring at Snape. The poor werewolf had lost the ability to speak, mouth opening and closing soundlessly.

"This dog is innocent!" Jim announced, holding the unconscious rat up by its tail. "It was the rat all along! We demand justice! Today is the day of -"

"Mr Potter," McGonagall cut in sternly. "Would you please explain yourself before you put Slytherin House in negative points for the first time in history?"

It was a testament to how deep Snape's hatred of them ran that he didn't even blink at the threat to his House - he looked like he agreed with it. Lupin was staring at the rat.

"No..." he breathed, looking between the rat and the dog, the pieces falling into place. "That's impossible..."

"Remus?" Dumbledore asked, concerned, but Lupin had one again become stunned until silence. 

"This rat is a mass murderer!" Jim proclaimed.

"An Animagus!" Sam's own announcement was rewarded with a chorus of gasps. It was like a pantomime. This was great. 

"Sirius Black?" Flitwick squeaked, eyes widening. Dumbledore and Snape got up out of their chairs, moving towards the rat, but Sam held a hand up to stop them. 

"No." She said, earning several confused looks. Jim cleared his throat meaningfully.

"Peter Pettigrew."

Lupin was still having Nam flashbacks, so he couldn't confirm their statement. Snape went back to looking murderous. "Peter Pettigrew -"

"Picked a peck of pickled peppers."

"- is dead." Snape finished like Sam hadn't spoken. Dumbledore, however, looked like he was entirely on board.

"He faked his death by cutting off his finger. Exhibit A," Jim pointed at the rat. "This rat has also cut off its finger."

"Exhibit B: Pettigrew can turn into a rat." Sam took over, gesturing at the Animagus. "This rat can also turn into a rat."

"This rat went on holiday to Egypt, so Gary broke out of Alcatraz -" 

"Azkaban." Sam whispered. 

"Azkaban, because the Minister of Magic let him do a crossword puzzle."

Suddenly, it was Sirius standing next to Sam instead of a dog. "You two are awful at this!" He accused, pointing at them. 

The Professors let out shouts of surprise, leaping to their feet and aiming their wands at the 'mass murderer'. Sam jumped in front of him with her arms out like a human shield and Sirius wisely ducked behind her, grabbing her shoulders to put her firmly between him and the firing squad.

"Step away from him!" Snape demanded, trying to aim around Sam.

"They're telling the truth!" Lupin finally regained the use of his voice. "He's an Animagus!"

"Thank you, Moony." Sirius said, peering around Sam. McGonagall looked between the escaped convict and the werewolf for a second. 

"Moony." She said, looking at Lupin, then looked at Sirius. "Padfoot." She looked torn between disbelief and exasperation. 

"You remembered." Sirius grinned at the Transfiguration Professor over Sam's shoulder.

"Of course I remember, Mr Black. The Marauders aren't something one forgets, no matter how hard they may try." She was still pale, but she'd lowered her wand, looking at the rat. "Wormtail?"

"They're stupid names." Jim said, and Sirius frowned at him. 

"Because The Sherbet Lemon Crew is any better." He said, restarting the argument they'd been having for three days now. Snape looked like he was considering turning his wand on Jim at the reminder.

"I believe there is a simple solution to find out the truth of the matter." Dumbledore said before an argument about crew names could begin. "If you could please place that rat on the floor, Mr Potter."

Jim stepped forwards and placed the rat in the no man's land between them and the Professors then quickly backed up to stand with Sam and Sirius again. With a wave of Dumbledore's wand and a blue and white flash, the rat transformed.

Lying in the place of the rat was a grubby-skinned, balding man with very rat-like features, missing the famous finger from his right hand. 

Snape lowered his wand, the irritated scowl finally turning into surprise, and McGonagall put a hand to her heart in shock. Everyone was staring at Pettigrew in wide-eyed disbelief and Sirius finally moved out from behind his human shield.

"This was the best game of Cluedo ever." Sam said into the stunned silence. "Our work here is done. Let's go, Jim."

No one bothered trying to stop them from leaving. Sam hoped Pettigrew was enough of a distraction that they wouldn't get detention for harbouring a fugitive.

Chapter Text

They had officially changed canon. 

Sirius had been cleared of all charges by a landslide while Pettigrew was sentenced to the Dementor's Kiss in his place. They'd completely destroyed the plot of the book in only a few short months; they'd probably ruined something further down the line, they'd definitely fucked with any further events that Pettigrew was supposed to be involved in. 

And they were bored.

Finishing the plot before Christmas meant they had absolutely nothing to do, and that was when their assholeness cranked up to eleven. Boredom was a state of being they just couldn't handle. It led to criminal charges, spontaneous trips to wherever the earliest flight was headed, and the misfortune of anyone in the general vicinity.

At first they'd tried to start planning for the next book, but it was too far away for it to hold their attention for long. Without something to work towards for the time being they were left with nothing but classes and homework and oh my God there's nothing happening can someone please just die or something. 

It was a good thing they'd been stockpiling, otherwise they might have started killing off students.

One of the best things they'd found in this new world was Woolworths - oh, how Sam had missed Woolworths - where they'd bought ample ammunition they could start using. First on the list? 

Bouncy balls.

40 packs of High Bounce Bouncy Balls, 250 in each pack. 10,000 bouncy balls. It was a simple enough prank, waiting at the top of the staircase for breakfast to finish. They put all of the bouncy balls in an extendable bag and Fred levitated it up over the Entrance Hall until the students started leaving, whereupon Jim used the Severing Charm and unleashed them.

The screaming as the students fled back into the safety of the Great Hall was music to Sam's ears.

It took the Professors hours to get rid of all the bouncy balls. People were still finding them for weeks after.

That was a warning shot.

Second on their list?

Cling film.

At first the twins had been baffled at the cling film, but once the prank was explained they professed their love for the 'stretchy invisible parchment'. They used the cloak to lurk outside the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff dorms to learn how to enter them (answering a riddle and tapping out a specific pattern on some barrels respectively) and in one night they managed to cling film wrap every toilet in the entire castle.

There were a great many complaints.

There were a great many detentions.

On Christmas day they went into the kitchens and replaced all the turkeys with rubber chickens and all the Wizarding Christmas Crackers with normal ones. They stuck the former together in a long line, strings tied around each end, and placed them in the middle of the Entrance Hall.

When the students left the Christmas feast they looked bewildered at the floating line of crackers set up like a game of tug of war. Some lucky few figured it out immediately and ran back into the Great Hall before the four of them, two at each end, pulled.

The explosion was magnificent, hats flying in every direction as the deafening bangs shook the Hall, blue smoke covering their escape.

Then there was the superglue.

Eight classrooms: Jim took the Potions and Muggle Studies rooms, Fred went for Transfiguration and Charms, George had Divination and Runes, which left Sam with Defence Against the Dark Arts and Arithmancy. They didn't bother with History of Magic, Binns wouldn't notice and they weren't having their hard work go unappreciated.

They superglued every item that was on the Professor's desks exactly where they were, nothing to suggest anything was amiss. They gave Peeves a bottle for himself and after showing him how it worked he flew off cackling, heading directly towards Filch's office.

They got to see the payoff the next morning in Charms. Flitwick went to pick up a book on his desk and, upon finding it immovable, gave Sam and Jim - because who else? - an exasperated look and cast the counter-spell on the apparent Sticking Charm before picking up the book. 

The book stayed stuck.

When the four of them were summoned to Dumbledore's office they denied any wrongdoing because how would they even know the Permanent Sticking Charm? And that was when they learned about the spell that forced a wand to show an 'echo' of the last spell it had cast.

Needless to say, the Professors were very confused when the only spells they'd performed were from the previous days classes.

The Professors were forced to either vanish or leave the stuck items on their desks. 

There were a great many complaints.

There were no detentions. 

Fred and George were geniuses, literal ginger Albert Einsteins. The things they invented were amazing and Jim, with his riches, funded the twins' business. It was something he considered his best investment, the Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder his favourite product; it created impenetrable darkness wherever it was thrown that was resistant to any Light-creation spells. Jim, with his creepy hand that gave light only to him, had many plans.

They replaced every telescope in Astronomy with ones that had a small fist that world extend and punch the user in the face, they planted custard creams that turned people into large canaries in the food in the kitchens - watching students turn into giant birds at dinner that night had Sam laughing so hard she almost threw up - and did the same with toffees that made people's tongues four feet long. 

People feared walking in the corridors. People feared eating in the Great Hall. The Professors were on constant high alert.

Their greatest prank was when they stopped pulling pranks. 

Everyone was on edge, a climate of fear as they waited for the next prank, and the longer nothing happened the more scared people became, absolutely certain that whatever they had planned next would be catastrophic for it to take so long. 

It was glorious.

Everyone was relieved when term ended and they could escape Hogwarts for a few months. 

"Another year, another success." Jim said as the train pulled out of the station. Sam couldn't agree more. 

"Next year should be interesting." She lay across the seats, staring up at the roof of the carriage. "I'm pretty sure Pettigrew had a part in the next book. We might have seriously messed with things."

Jim snorted. "It can't be that important." Sam pondered that. 

"Eh," she shrugged. "We'll manage."

Chapter Text

Sam was Suspicious with a capital S.

She'd expected to return to her fake-parents and find them furious that she'd been lying to them for three years and living in a shady neighbourhood, probably ground her for life (as if that would do anything) and forbid her from seeing Jim (good luck with that) but no. Instead she'd found them waiting for her at the station like nothing had happened, asking her how school was and if she'd made any more friends. 

And Sam was Suspicious.

This had Dumbledore written all over it. She half expected to find white hairs from his beard around the house as a sign that he'd been there, like a cat that had snuck in and lay on the sofa. There wasn't, but she knew. 

Did he think Sam would also kill her fake-family if forced to endure their company for too long? Did he know that leaving Jim unsupervised would end in chaos? Was there some other motive behind him not telling her fake-parents the truth? 

Suspicious.

She also didn't care. 

When she went over to Jim's new house he was living in with his godfather Sam regretted not being grounded for life. 

"What the actual fuck is this?"

Jim grinned. "The home of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black." He said, making a grand sweeping gesture behind him at the house in question. 

Number 12 Grimmauld Place looked like a haunted house. The long hallway Sam was currently standing in was lit with gas lamps and a large overhead chandelier, the wallpaper peeling off and the carpet worn thin. The wall to the right where the staircase was had been decorated with a row of shrunken house-elf heads mounted on plaques.

"That's... actually horrific." Sam said, staring at the elf heads. Jim's grin widened.

"Come on, I'll show you the best part!" 

Jim grabbed her hand and Sam left her trunk by the door so she could follow Jim down the hallway. They stopped in front of a pair of moth-eaten velvet curtains that looked like they were covering a doorway.

"Okay," Jim grabbed her shoulders and positioned her right in front of the curtains. "Stand right there."

She stared at the curtains curiously and Jim kicked the wall next to them. 

The curtains flew open to reveal a woman, who immediately started screaming at the top of her lungs. Sam leapt back in alarm, screaming herself, before she realized it was actually a portrait.

"Filth! Scum! Begone from this place!" The woman screeched, waving sharp nails in front of her like she was trying to claw her way through the canvas. She was literally frothing at the mouth, eyes rolling, skin stretched tight over her face. "How dare you befoul the house of my fathers!"

Someone came running out of the door to their left, grabbing the curtains and trying to force them closed. At the sight of him, the deranged woman became even more rabid. 

"YOU!" She screamed, eyes widening. "Blood traitor! Shame of my flesh!"

Neither Sam or Jim made a move to help Sirius, who managed to force the curtains closed after a few seconds. The screaming stopped abruptly.

Sirius stepped back, letting out a long-suffering sigh as he turned to Jim. "Harry," he said, a little pleading. "Please stop."

"I can't help it." Jim said cheerfully. "I like her, she's funny."

"Can portraits get rabies?" Sam asked, examining the curtains. "I think your portrait has rabies." 

Jim gave Sirius an apologetic look. "Time to put her down."

Sirius sighed again. "Two of them. Now there's two of them." He muttered as he headed back into the room he'd come running out of. "Bloody brilliant... should have stayed in Azkaban..."

Sam had been roped into helping clean the ancestral home, and it required hell of a lot of cleaning to make it even remotely habitable. The house was in such disrepair that doxies and Boggarts had made themselves at home - both Sam and Jim refused to go anywhere near either of those - and some of the things they came across were lethal.

There was a grandfather clock that shot bolts at whoever walked past it, a set of purple robes that had tried to strangle Sam when she removed them from the wardrobe - Jim had been too busy laughing to help and Sirius had to fight off the sleeves around her neck - and an enchanted music box that Jim wound, ignoring Sirius' warning, which played a sinister twinkling tune that knocked them all out for two hours. 

Sam had never thought cleaning could be this much fun. Every single thing inside the creepy house was just so bizarre that she and Jim just had to mess with it, to Sirius' increasing stress levels. He ended up asking (begging) Lupin to come and help because "I can't handle two of them Moony they're going to kill us all."

Sam and Jim had managed to save many objects from being thrown out. Jim stole a large gold ring with the Black family crest on it and Sam swiped the 'depression locket', a heavy gold locket with green gems in the shape of an - which she had to have purely because it had her initial on it - that made whoever wore it seriously grumpy. 

They added a set of daggers and a silver snuffbox that tried to bite everyone to their loot with the plan of duplicating the latter and setting an army of biting snuffboxes loose in Snape's office.

Jim wanted to steal the strangling robes but Sam set them on fire in revenge.

Sirius had walked in on them standing over the burning robes in the drawing room and gave the most despairing sigh Sam had ever heard. 

The plot kicked off not long before they were due to return to Hogwarts.

"I think," Sam said as she looked down at the front page of the Daily Prophet, "this is important."

SCENES OF TERROR AT THE QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP was the headline, accompanied by a picture of a giant skull with a snake protruding from its mouth in the sky.

Jim leaned over to look at the paper. "Quidditch hooligans?"

"They were Death Eaters." Jim stared at her blankly, and Sam sighed. "Voldemort's gang."

Now Jim was interested. "He has a gang?" He pulled the newspaper closer. "He has a tag too? Holy shit, we need to get a symbol for our gang. We can have a gang rivalry!" He took the Daily Prophet from her so he could read it himself. "Why were they putting their graffiti in the sky at the Quidditch thing?"

"There was a riot." Sam explained, grabbing Jim's coffee now that he'd stolen the paper. "Death Eaters showed up and started attacking people, then they put up their gang sign and people freaked out - apparently that mark used to be put up when they murdered someone."

"They killed someone?" Jim asked eagerly as he skimmed through the article. "Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation, Bartemius Crouch Senior." He read aloud. "They killed him and stole his house-elf? How do they know the house-elf didn't kill him?"

"If house-elves could kill the people they worked for Sirius wouldn't have lasted one night in this house."

The Black family house-elf, Kreacher - or the racist Dobby, as Jim called him - was hostile and miserable with a habit of continously insulting them, especially Sam with her dirty O-Negative blood. He loathed taking orders from anyone, communicating in dirty looks and biting remarks. He did little, if any, cleaning and stole just as many items as Sam and Jim - which had Sirius blaming all the thefts on him, luckily.

Kreacher and Sirius had such a bitter rivalry that Sam had actually considered going out and buying popcorn to eat whenever she watched them interact.

"I'm pretty sure this Crouch guy was important." Sam told Jim, nodding at the newspaper in his hands. "I know his name, I'm pretty sure he's in this book."

Jim shrugged. "Not anymore." He threw the paper down, uninterested again. Sam's own interest in the whole thing had also disappeared. If it was that important she'd know about it. 

Clearly it was something they could ignore without any future problems. 

Chapter Text

Werewolf McWerewolf had been sacked.

Snape was a bullying jerk; he'd been covering Lupin's classes every full moon, and every single class had been about werewolves. He couldn't outright tell everyone Lupin was a werewolf, but if someone figured it out it wasn't technically his fault. Really, all it had taken was someone checking a lunar calendar.

No one was really surprised. He was called Werewolf McWerewolf after all. The only thing that was surprising was that no one had figured it out sooner. 

But the arrival of their new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor was worth it. 

Dumbledore had been in the middle of announcing the plot for this year after the feast when there was a crack of thunder and the doors of the Great Hall flew open to reveal a shadowy figure holding a staff.

"Gandalf?" Jim asked hopefully. 

A flash of lightning illuminated the figure, and he was definitely not Gandalf; the man looked like he'd been thrown into a woodchipper and put back together with pieces missing, a wooden leg ending in a clawed foot replacing his left one, his face covered on scars, a chunk missing out of his nose, and a bright blue eye that was whizzing around independent of his real one. 

"He's an imposter." Sam leaned over to whisper to Jim as the fake-Professor walked towards the teacher's table, a clunk echoing around the room on every other step. 

"Cool. Who is he actually?"

"Uh... David Tennant."

"May I introduce our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Moody." Dumbledore said brightly once the man had sat down. There was no reaction from the students or the Professors, Dumbledore and Hagrid the only ones who were clapping. It was so awkward that Sam just had to join in enthusiastically, Jim following her example a second later, going to far as to whistle with his fingers. 

Once the four of them had stopped their pathetic applause, Dumbledore cleared his throat and went back to explaining the plot. 

When it was announced that no student under the age of seventeen would be allowed to enter the Tournament there was instant uproar, but Jim looked relieved.

"That means I'm not going to be part of it, right?" He asked as Dumbledore carried on. Sam was quickly becoming bored of the long-winded explanation of the Tournament and its rules. Two minutes in and she'd completely stopped listening. 

"You're the main character." She reminded him. "Rules don't apply to you. I think he," she nodded at fake-Moody, "is trying to kill you."

Jim narrowed his eyes at the man. "I can take him in a fight. He's already missing thirty percent of his body, and he doesn't even have a turban."

They weren't the only ones who were discussing fake-Moody. All anyone was talking about for the first few days of term was the man's lessons, and those who had already attended them refused to share what he actually taught, only that it was the most interesting lesson they'd ever had. 

The fourth year Slytherins had Defence Against the Dark Arts on Wednesday, and there was a definite sense of anticipation as they all sat in the classroom to wait for the man to turn up. Sam and Jim had managed to get seats right at the front, sitting next to Malfoy and Nott, who weren't thrilled about the seating arrangement.

When fake-Moody finally turned up he announced they were going to be learning about the Unforgivable Curses, and Jim had sat straighter in his seat immediately. The book on the Unforgivables was his favourite read and he'd scribbled notes in all of the margins.

Fake-Moody demonstrated all three Curses on spiders - which disturbed Jim more than the actual Curses themselves - and Jim was watching with rapt attention, eyes alight with excitement as he watched the flash of green light kill the poor spider.

"Exterminate." Sam whispered, and Jim snorted loud enough to attract fake-Moody's attention. The man's real eye narrowed a little. Jim grinned back. 

"Not nice," fake-Moody said, brushing the dead spider off the desk. "Not pleasant. There's no counter curse, no blocking it. Only one person's ever survived it, and he's in this room."

"Hit me with it again." Jim demanded immediately. "I need to know if I'm immune - I'd do it myself but I can't cast it yet."

"You pronounce it wrong." Sam told him for the dozenth time. "It's a-vah-da ke-dah-vra. You say av-veh-deh ke-deh-vra. It's your accent."

"It's not illegal if you cast it on yourself, right?" Jim asked fake-Moody, who was staring at him, speechless. "Sammy won't hit me with it because she's a wimp."

"There's Dementors at Azkaban." She said defensively. "I'd be stuck in Luton Airport for the rest of my life, Jim."

Jim rolled his eyes. "Wimp." He said again. "You'd probably die anyway, the last person who tried it blew up. Even if you didn't you could just -" He mimed putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger, his other hand on the opposite side mimicking an explosion of brain matter.

Sam sighed. "Can you please just hit him with it?" She asked fake-Moody despairingly. "I've had four years of this. Plus, you've got a time machine, you can just go back if it kills him."

Fake-Moody stared. The rest of the class stared. Jim sighed. 

"Can someone please just hit me with the Killing Curse? I need to know. For science."

Chapter Text

The arrival of the other schools at Hogwarts was not worth standing outside waiting for them. October wasn't the warmest during the day, but at night it was downright freezing.

But wizards were addicted to dramatics, as the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang schools showcased by arriving in a carriage pulled by giant winged horses and a massive ship appearing from the lake.

Sam was extremely disappointed when the Durmstrang Headmaster stepped off the boat with his merry band of students dressed in red robes and fur cloaks. She'd been expecting Jack Sparrow but the only thing even remotely pirate-y about him was his goatee.

The feast was pretty standard, with the addition of new dishes from France and wherever the hell Durmstrang was. There was a definite smugness radiating from the Slytherin table because the Durmstrang students had joined them and one of them was a famous Quidditch player, who had the luck of sitting opposite Sam and Jim.

After watching poor Viktor Krum be hounded by his fans for a while, Jim decided to 'save' him. 

"Do you learn the Unforgivables at your school?"

The question effectively halted all conversation. While the Durmstrang students looked confused, the Slytherins immediately looked alarmed that the two of them had decided to interact with the celebrity.

"Ignore them." Malfoy said quickly, and serval Durmstrang students looked at him. "You're better off not knowing. Trust me." The closest Slytherins were nodding their agreement. Sam ignored them right back.

"He wants someone to cast the Killing Curse on him." She explained, and a few Slytherins immediately became interested in anything that wasn't them. "He thinks he's immune."

"I might be immune." Jim corrected. "That's why I need to test it. Someone" he looked at Sam "is too much of a wimp to hit me with it." Sam frowned at him. 

"I don't know why you're convinced I can cast it."

"You're better at Charms." 

"I don't think the Killing Curse falls under that category."

"We'd know if you just hit me with it." 

"I'm not going to Azkaban, Jim." Sam shook her head. "Nope. No Dementor waiters for me. Ask our old neighbour. If it works he can bring you back." Jim sighed. 

"Sammy, we don't know he's a necromancer." He said, exasperated. "He could be doing anything with dead bodies. He's probably a cannibal."

"No, I heard him chanting one time. He's a necromancer."

"He could have been doing anything." Jim argued, either oblivious or uncaring to the surrounding students' growing alarm. "He's a cannibal."

"Necromancer."

"He could be both." Jim allowed. Sam frowned thoughtfully. 

"I'm going to ask him." She decided. "He's a pretty chill guy, I'm sure he'd tell us if we asked."

Jim brightened. "We could start a cult!"

"We already have a cult."

"Yeah, but we don't eat people." He grinned. "Yet."

The Durmstrang students were saved from the rest of their plans for their gang - or cult, it depended on the day really - when the food disappeared and Dumbledore introduced the Ministry officials, whose names Sam forgot the moment they were spoken. The title of the book was brought in, and the jewelled casket was much nicer than the goblet itself, which was a wooden monstrosity full of blue-white flames. 

"Ah, the fire cup." Jim said as excited whispers broke out across the hall. "Do you think we can put the fire out? That would stop the plot, right?"

Sam shrugged. "Worth a try."

After everyone had gone to bed that night they snuck out to do just that. There was age line around the goblet that prevented them from getting close, so they used the water making charm from afar. It didn't work. 

Jim tried using Winguardium Leviosa, his next plan to steal the goblet and dump it in the lake, but that didn't work either. They returned to the common room in defeat. 

The next night found them back in the Great Hall. It was very dramatic after Dumbledore extinguished all of the candles and left the Hall in semi-darkness, lit only by the blue fire of the goblet. 

Jim was muttering under his breath the whole time, a steady mantra of "not me, not me, not me" as the Champions were chosen one by one. When Cedric Diggory - not Robert Pattinson, another disappointment - was chosen as the Hogwarts Champion Jim breathed a sigh of relief while Sam waited eagerly for the inevitable.

Sure enough, the goblet spat out a fourth piece of parchment and Dumbledore snatched it out of the air. There were mutters around the Hall as Dumbledore looked down at the name in visible confusion, then cleared his throat and announced, "Harry Potter."

Jim violently introduced his head to the table. Sam, who'd come prepared, blew into the party horn she'd brought for the occasion. The ptooo it made as it unrolled echoed in the dead silence of the Hall.

There was no applause, everyone staring at the two of them in disbelief. Jim, scowling, grabbed Sam's hand and dragged her towards the door the other Champions had gone through.

The three actual Champions looked surprised at their arrival as Jim kicked the door closed behind him, almost hitting Not Jack Sparrow in the face as he chased after them, the rest of the Triwizard gang not far behind him. 

"What is zee meaning of zis, Dumbly-dorr?" Female Hagrid asked imperiously.

"I'd like to know that myself." Not Jack Sparrow growled. "Two Hogwarts Champions? I don't remember anyone telling me the host school is allowed to have two Champions, or have I not read the rules carefully enough?"

Dumbledore ignored both of them, his attention on Sam and Jim. "What are you doing here, Miss Granger?" Was his first question.

"She's my legal representative." Jim said, and Sam adopted the most professional expression she could, straightening up. 

"My client would like to invoke his right to counsel and have an attorney present during interrogation."

No one seemed to know what to say to that. Knowing that he'd get nowhere trying to get Sam to leave, Dumbledore sighed. "Harry," the Headmaster began calmly, and Sam saw the grin on Jim's face. 

"DID YOU PUT YOUR NAME IN THE GOBLET OF FIRE!" They shouted at the top of their lungs, and it was immediately followed by uncontrollable laughter.

"This is no laughing matter!" Not Jack Sparrow snapped, which made Sam laugh harder.

"It's not." Jim said, then went right back to laughing. 

Sam managed to get herself back under control and cleared her throat. "My client would like to remind the court of his right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty."

"It would be a nice change for Mr Potter to prove that he has not, for once, continued his blatant disregard for the rules." Snape was looking at the two of them with what Sam would call 'irritated exhasperation', his default expression when in their presence. 

"Actually, the defendant isn't required to present any evidence at all." Sam informed him. "The burden of proving guilt lies on the prosecution - basically, it's your job to prove he did it, not his job to prove he didn't."

Jim was smirking. "She binge watched twenty seasons of Law and Order." He said proudly. "But it doesn't matter if I put my name in or not, I don't want to compete. I am officially withdrawing from the competition."

"I'm afraid you have no choice." Pillsworth, the late Crouch's replacement, told Jim. "The rules state clearly that the names of those who come out of the Goblet of Fire are bound to compete in the Tournament. There's a binding magical contract -"

"But he didn't put his name in." Sam cut him off. "The contract isn't enforceable against him, he didn't agree to its terms. Might I remind the court that forgery is a crime, so is identity theft. My client will be abstaining from competing in this Tournament under Protocol One, Act Three of the Human Rights Act. Until the prosecution can prove, beyond reasonable doubt, all elements of the offence and provide sufficient evidence, my client will not be attending any further interviews. Let's go, Jim."

Everyone was too busy trying to make sense of Sam's legal babble to stop them from leaving. 

"What's Protocol One, Act Three of the Human Rights Act?" Jim asked quietly as they headed for the door. 

"The right to participate in free elections." She shrugged. "I don't know if half of what I said would hold up in court."

Jim threw an arm around her shoulders. "Well, I think we got away with it." He said cheerfully, holding the door open for her. "That's that problem sorted."

The problem wasn't sorted.

They did not get away with it.

Chapter Text

The 'Weighing of the Wands Ceremony' was apparently a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament, designed to ensure that all of the wands were in perfect functioning condition for the three Tasks ahead.

Sam hadn't been invited, which meant Jim had been alone for an hour. 

One hour.

One. Hour.

The headline of the Daily Prophet the next day was the result of that one hour where Jim was left unsupervised.

"Well, that's our reputation down the toilet." Sam sighed as she stared down at the newspaper the owl had just delivered. Jim leaned over so he could see what she was talking about. 

He stared at the headline for a second, then started laughing, loud and hysterical.

The Great Hall had already been filled with intense whispers and murmurs, which increased in volume at the unhinged laughter. 

"Keep the demons at bay, Jim." Sam told him as she smoothed out the paper to read the article.

HARRY POTTER: DARK OR DERANGED?

Harry Potter, the boy who defeated He Who Must Not Be Named, is considered by many to be the saviour of the Wizarding World, writes Rita Skeeter, Special Correspondent. But shocking details have come to light that paints a very different picture of the Boy-Who-Lived.

In an interview with your Daily Prophet reporter during the Weighing of the Wands Ceremony, Potter made an alarming comment about his holly and phoenix feather wand.

"It's got the same bird feather in it as his." Said Potter, referring to He Who Must Not Be Named. Yes, the Daily Prophet can exclusively reveal that the phoenix feather in Potter's wand comes from the same phoenix that supplied the core of the Dark Lord's.

When asked his opinion, Potter's only comment was, "Mine's better. His wand couldn't even kill a baby. I bet my wand could kill a baby. Someone find me a baby and I'll prove it."

This disturbing statement is, according to several sources, not the only one of its kind. 

The Boy-Who-Lived has made several worrying comments over the years to fellow students at Hogwarts.

"He wants someone to cast the Killing Curse on him." Says one student, who wishes to remain unnamed in fear of retaliation from Potter. "He wants to test if he's immune, he doesn't care if it actually kills him."

"He's not right in the head." Another student had to say. "Him and Granger."

Hermione Granger, Potter's classmate and close friend, exhibits the same worrying behaviour. Several students describe the two as "strange" and even "psychotic".

But that, my dear readers, may only the tip of the iceberg.

"Potter can speak to snakes," reveals a Hogwarts fourth year. "There were a lot of attacks on students a couple of years ago, and most people thought Potter and Granger were behind them."

Parseltongue, the ability to converse with snakes, has long been considered a Dark Art. Indeed, the most famous Parseltongue of our times is none other than You-Know-Who himself. These alarming connections between the two raise many questions about just how similar Potter and the Dark Lord he defeated are and, similarly, if there is more behind Potter's survival of the Killing Curse.

Dumbledore surely has a duty to investigate these concerns and ensure that Potter and Granger are kept under close watch to make sure their strange behaviour doesn't turn into something of a more sinister nature, and (ctd. page 2, column 5)

"Why was I dragged into this?" Sam complained, handing the newspaper over for Jim to read. "And psychotic is a little harsh. It's not like we're serial killers or anything."

"Yeah, we've only killed one guy." Jim said as he scanned the article. A few of the nearest Slytherins shared alarmed looks. Ah, more 'worrying comments' for Skeeter to put in her next article.

"You killed one guy." Sam said as she reached for her coffee. "My hands are clean."

"You helped."

"How?"

"You were there. Doing nothing to save him is just as bad as burning his face off yourself. You're a terrible, terrible person, Sammy. You're going to hell."

"Time to find a church, then." She sighed. "How many Hail Mary's do you think will do it?"

"Twelve Hail Mary's and five Our Father's." Jim decided after a moment. "And give a tenner to charity."

"Ten quid? Fuck that, I'll go to hell."

They spent the two weeks leading up to the First Task getting nothing done. Jim had only seen half of the film before they'd been kicked out of the cinema and Sam had watched it a grand total of two times, but they were both confident in their knowledge of the First Task. Harry had to steal a golden egg from a dragon, and he'd used his broom to do it. 

The only problem with this was that Jim was useless on a broom. 

It was fine. They had a far more simple solution in mind. 

Watching the First Task in person was something Sam had absolutely not been prepared for. Just seeing the dragons had her bouncing in her seat with excitement, watching the dozen or so wizards levitating the giant unconscious lizard and its eggs into the arena. 

"Dragons!" She said gleefully, staring at the blue dragon that had been woken up as soon as the dragon handlers left the arena. "Dragons!" She turned to Malfoy, who was sitting next to her in the Slytherin section of the crowd and looking none too happy about it. "Malfoy, look! A dragon!"

"Yes, Granger, I can see it." He really wasn't appreciating this fact as much as he should be. 

"This is the best thing that's ever happened." Sam stared at the creature in awe. "It's like Game of Thrones but without the murder..." something occurred to her then, and her smile disappeared. "Oh my God."

Malfoy looked wary at the abrupt mood change. "What?" He asked slowly, like he wanted to know but didn't want to ask. 

"The last season of Game of Thrones." She said, horrified. "I never got to see the last season of Game of Thrones! Now I've got to wait twenty five years! Someone better get eaten today."

Malfoy shifted as far away from her as possible. 

Diggory was first up. When he turned a rock into a Labrador Sam was on the edge of her seat, watching through her fingers and repeating "Not the dog, not the dog", ready to close her eyes if the dog died. Thankfully, the dragon changed its mind and started chasing Diggory instead.

Sam was the only one who cheered.

Diggory got the egg in the end, but he got burned too. As far as Sam was concerned he deserved it for trying to kill a dog. 

When Fleur Delacour entered the arena Sam saw silver-blonde hair and gasped.

"Daenerys!" She slapped Malfoy on the arm in excitement. "Malfoy, look! It's a crossover! What's the green dragon called? Rhaegal? Or was it Viserion?"

"I have no idea what you're rambling about." Malfoy glared at her, rubbing at his arm where she'd slapped him. 

"I think the first book's out soon." She was sure it was, anyway. "I'll get it for you. It's all politics and murder and sex - there's dragons, too! It's about this huge civil war with five Kings fighting for the throne, but there's ice zombies that are coming to kill everyone. It's amazing!"

Malfoy looked both alarmed and unwillingly intrigued. "...What's this book called?"

They completely ignored Fleur and Krum's turns in the arena so Sam could explain the plot of Game of Thrones to Malfoy, who listened with rapt attention, going from sceptical to enthralled. By the time it was Jim's turn against the dragon Malfoy was demanding Sam buy him the book when it was released.

Slowly, she would bring modern pop culture to Slytherin. She was still trying to figure out how to make a CD player work in Hogwarts so she could bring 90's music into their lives. 

Finally, Jim's dragon and its eggs were levitated into the arena. "That one looks like Drogon." Sam told Malfoy, pointing at the great black dragon. Malfoy leaned forwards, much more enthusiastic.

Jim didn't approach the dragon. Instead, he kept a safe distance and pointed his wand in the direction of the eggs. 

The golden egg didn't come flying towards him. 

Even this far away, Sam could see his irritated sigh. 

Jim stood there for a moment, staring at the dragon, before looking at the audience. Sam waved at him and his eyes landed on her. He held his hands out in a clear 'what now?' gesture.

Sam looked at the golden egg, currently being guarded by a very unfriendly looking dragon. Apparently it had the same charm on it that Jim's cloak did, which also couldn't be summoned. She thought about how they'd brought the eggs into the arena and cupped her hands around her mouth to shout, "Use the force, Jim!"

She wasn't sure her voice would carry that far, especially the commentator prattling on about the breed of dragon and the Daily Prophet article about Jim, but he gave her a thumbs up and turned back to the dragon. 

It took him a few tries, accidentally levitating the other eggs three times before he finally got the golden one. It was slow going, the egg hovering above the ground as Jim levitated it away from the rest of the eggs. He moved it behind the dragon first, right up to the back of the arena before moving it along the edge. 

When he finally got the egg within reach he stopped the levitation charm, picked it up, and walked out of the arena. 

There was a moment of silence before applause broke out, enthusiastic even though it was clear everyone had been expecting something more dramatic. 

Sam made her way out of the stands to go find Jim, paying no attention to the scoring. It wasn't like it mattered.

She found him outside the Champion's tent, kicking the golden egg around like a football. He looked up at her approach, grinning. 

"That was easy!" He said, kicking the egg towards her. She stopped it with her foot. "Good thinking, Sammy. I can't believe no one else thought of that - it's a first year spell!"

Sam kicked the egg back. "Wizards are addicted to pageantry." Jim's grin widened.

"The rest of these Tasks are going to be a walk in the park!"

Chapter Text

When Snape asked Jim to stay behind after Potions one Thursday afternoon, Sam was intrigued. Snape made a point of avoiding being in the same room as them if he could help it, so him asking to spend time with one of them meant something very interesting was happening.

Of course, Sam stayed behind too. Snape didn't even bother asking her to leave. 

"I have been told to inform you," Snape said in his 'I'm doing this against my will and I don't like it or you' voice. "That the Triwizard Champions and their respective partners will lead the first dance at the Yule Ball which, in case you have forgotten, will be taking place in two weeks."

Sam had forgotten this, and the look on Jim's face told her he had too. As soon as they'd heard about this 'ball' they'd both agreed not to attend because ugh.

Jim made a noise of disgust. "Pass."

"It is not a suggestion, Potter." Snape growled impatiently. "You will be representing the school, which means you will not pull any of your usual antics or you will find yourself in detention for the next three years. Do I make myself clear?"

"Crystal." Jim gave the man a smile. Snape narrowed his eyes at him.

"You will be in the Great Hall at eight o'clock, dressed appropriately in dress robes -"

"I have to wear a dress?"

"Dress robes." Snape said through gritted teeth. "You will be there on time in dress robes and you will behave."

He stopped for a second and Sam knew he was counting to ten. She counted with him. 

He made it to four.

"You and your partner will open the ball alongside the other Champions." Snape said irritably, glancing at Sam. She gave him a bright smile. He scowled at her. 

"Sounds good, right Sammy?"

"Very good, Jim."

Jim straightened up, clearing his throat. "Professor, would you do me the honour of -"

"Get out."

They spent the next few days trying to find their perfect dates. Sam went straight to Flitwick, who stared at her for a long moment before responding with a very confused, "...No."

Sam was devastated.

So was Jim when he was similarly turned down by McGonagall.

Again and again, they had their hearts broken. Binns didn't even acknowledge Sam when she asked him. They ended up cornering Dumbledore at the same time, both of them trying to ask him to the ball while trying to stop the other from doing so.

Dumbledore politely declined.

And so it was that they were forced to go together. 

Jim wrote to Sirius in order to get their 'appropriate' formal wear, and the man sent them some very nice outfits; a pair of black dress robes with a silver trim and tie, and a sleek silver dress. 

They met the twins and their dates outside the Slytherin common room, who also had very nice outfits. Their outfits were so nice, in fact, that when the six of them walked into the Entrance Hall at eight o'clock on the night of the Yule Ball everyone who hadn't gone into the Great Hall yet turned to stare at them in awe.

The twins' friend Lee Jordan was the first to break the silence when he started laughing.

"Oi!" George looked highly offended, putting his hands on his hips. He looked stunning in his pale pink dress and his date, Alicia Spinnet, was looking very formal in her navy dress robes - a match for Angelina Johnson's, who had her arm linked with Fred's. The other Weasley twin was wearing a periwinkle blue dress with frills, also looking beautiful.

George's indignant expression had the rest of the crowd laughing. Jim looked down at his silver dress, smoothing out the fabric. 

"Why are there no pockets on this dress? That's ridiculous." He complained. Sam, in her dress robes complete with pockets, pat him on the shoulder.

"Welcome to the female experience, Jim. We're not allowed pockets."

"Champions over here, please!" McGonagall's voice called, and Jim grabbed Sam's hand to pull her towards the direction of the voice while the rest of the students filed into the Great Hall. The Professor was talking to Diggory and his date, the other two Champions and their partners also present. McGonagall, when she noticed Sam and Jim approach, looked in their direction.

Sam couldn't place the expression on McGonagall's face. She seemed caught somewhere between incredulous, furious, and exasperated. The woman's face was quite the chameleon.

"Evening, Professor." Jim said cheerfully. "Lovely night for a ball, isn't it?"

McGonagall continued to stare at them. Sam could see Diggory trying hard not to laugh and Krum's date, the sixth year Slytherin Prefect Selina Moore, looked entirely unsurprised.

Sam could see McGonagall struggling with herself. She wanted to yell at them, Sam could feel the restraint she was using, but after a long few seconds she very calmly said, "If you could get in line in pairs and follow me."

Grinning, Jim linked arms with Sam so they could fall in line behind Diggory and his date, the Hufflepuff taking a moment to compliment Jim's dress (then became very confused when Jim responded with a "You look good too, Twilight") before they followed McGonagall into the hall like a row of ducklings.

Everyone in the Great Hall - which currently looked like Narnia, all sparkling frost and icy decorations - applauded when they entered, which was then interspersed with laughter and wolf-whistles when Sam and Jim walked in last. 

"I've never felt so beautiful, Sammy." Jim said, pretending to wipe a tear from his eye. "I feel like a princess."

Dumbledore was beaming at them, magic eyes brighter than Sam had ever seen them, practically glowing. Snape, in contrast, looked like he was stopping himself from going for his wand and cursing them right there. He'd probably do it if he had a clear shot. 

Dumbledore and the five judges were sat at the table at the top of the Hall where the staff table usually was, where the Champions were also seated.

"I must say, Mr Potter," Dumbledore said once they'd all sat down, "that is a lovely dress."

"Thank you." Jim said, grinning widely. "I bet you regret turning me down now."

The other adults were completely bewildered. Dumbledore's eyes were going to cause everyone in the vicinity vision problems.

"You look lovely too, Professor." Sam told Dumbledore. His purple robes and pointed hat had little stars swirling in the fabric and Sam absolutely needed a pair. Dumbledore smiled at her. 

"Thank you, Miss Granger. You look very smart in those dress robes. And what a wonderful hat." The wonderful hat being the Rear Admiral hat she'd got from a Christmas cracker during their first Christmas at Hogwarts.

The food was amazing, but God the meal itself was probably the most boring meal of her life, including the times she'd eaten alone.

Instead of the food just appearing like it usually did they had to speak to their plates to get the meal they wanted. Sam entertained herself by ordering one meal after the other, taking a piece from each one until she had a plateful of a bizarre mismatch of dinners and deserts.

Jim was happy enough ordering ice cream over and over again, doing the same as Sam and tipping each serving into a bowl until he had enough to attempt to make an ice cream snowman.

(He wasn't successful.)

Dumbledore was the only one at the table who wasn't staring at them like they were insane. He actually joined in, ordering enough to make his own ice cream snowman with the help of his wand. Jim had pouted until Dumbledore did the same to his own ice cream, and then the Headmaster obliged Jim's request and made the snowmen fight to the death in the middle of the table.

Sam knew that, even though Dumbledore was enjoying himself as much as they were, this was a very clear attempt to keep them entertained so they didn't find their own less harmless fun. 

Finally the meal was over and the tables were moved to create a dancefloor, a stage on one side of the room where a very bizarre looking band stepped onto, everyone cheering at the sight of them.

Ah yes, the Strange Siblings.

"Come on, Sammy!" Jim grabbed her hand and Sam was so thankful for anything to do that she almost ran down to the dancefloor.

They moved to the center of the Hall as the band started playing. The song was slow and boring and the other Champions were dancing just as slow and boring, pretty much just revolving on the spot.

Fortunately, Sam and Jim were excellent dancers.

Well, they could do one dance that they'd learned for a dance competition in Greece they'd stumbled across. They'd only had two days to practice, which consisted of the final dance from Dirty Dancing playing on repeat on the tiny television in their hotel room. They'd had to pay a lot for the damages to the room. 

Jim was adamant that they only came in last place because the judges didn't like the film and not because they could barely dance at all and Jim had dropped her when they attempted the lift. 

That had been six years ago and they hadn't practiced since. 

There was an added layer of difficulty now that their roles were reversed, and because the song the band was playing was so slow they had to sing the lyrics to keep on track. Every time Sam twirled Jim she started laughing at the way his dress flared out around him so much that she forgot the next move, but they were doing a damn good job of it - as evidenced by the laughter.

And then came the lift. 

Sam only had a second to brace herself when Jim came running full speed towards her. When he reached her he did a little leap, Sam's hands grabbed his waist, and she lifted with all her strength.

Jim got about three feet in the air before they went crashing to the floor. 

It was a spectacular collision. Even the band stopped playing for a moment before laughter filled the Hall, along with very enthusiastic cheering. Sam pushed Jim off of her, laughing at his scandalized expression.

"Our big finale, ruined." He shook his head as he got to his feet. "Shame on you, Sammy."

"You threw me into the crowd last time." She said, allowing him to pull her to her feet. Jim grinned, holding his hand out.

"Again?"

The other students joined them on the dance floor as the band picked back up again, the song much faster this time. The twins immediately demanded they do the dance with them, so Sam had Fred while George partnered with Jim. 

George actually managed to lift Jim into the air after three unsuccessful tries, receiving a wild round of applause from the students who'd decided watching the four of them was more fun than dancing themselves - safer, too, considering they were literally throwing each other around.

Sam ended up on her ass again when Fred ran at her, not even managing to get the gangly ginger an inch off the floor before they went down in a painful tangle of limbs.

They stopped after an hour, allowing the other students to return to the dance floor and - just like they'd hoped - several students were now attempting the lift.

Something was going to get broken. 

With the Professors distracted by the students trying to kill each other via Dirty Dancing, the four of them could sneak out unnoticed to have their actual party.

They made it to the no-longer-forbidden corridor on the third floor undetected, and when they reached the classroom where they'd hidden their stash George went over to the teacher's desk and pulled the bag out from behind it. 

"Ladies, gentleman." He said, dropping the bag on the desk and reaching into it. "Merry Christmas!" He held up a bottle of Firewhisky in each hand.

Muggle alcohol had nothing on its magical counterpart. Sam prided herself on her high tolerance, but it only took a few glasses of Firewhisky to get her drunk. Not even a little bit drunk. Real drunk. The drunkest of drunk.

She wasn't the only one either. Two hours in and Jim and Fred were having a very uncoordinated sword fight with the legs of the chair Jim had broken attempting their obstacle course (a line of chairs down the length of the room they had to jump from one to the other) while Sam taught George how to sing the entirety of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Sam looked over at the loud crash. Fred was now disarmed. His chair leg, Sam assumed, was responsible for the broken window.

Jim and Fred stared at the window for a moment before looking back at each other. Jim grinned, and Fred started running at the same time Jim charged at him. 

"George!" Fred cried as he ducked under the chair leg that missed him by inches. "Save me, brother!"

George, lying across the desk with Sam's tie around his head, didn't even look at him. "I see a little silhouetteo of a man! Scaramouch! Scaramouch! Can you do the Fandango!"

"Thunderbolts and lightning very very frightening me!" Jim joined in, the last word punctuated with a swing of the chair leg that Fred avoided by vaulting over a desk, almost tripping over the hem of his dress in the process.

"George!" Fred ran towards his brother, who was still completely ignoring him. 

"Galileo! Figaro! Magnificooooo -"

George's beautiful singing was cut off when Fred launched himself at him, sending them both crashing to the floor behind the desk. There was a beat of silence.

"I'm just a poor boy nobody loves me."

"HE'S JUST A POOR BOY FROM A POOR FAMILY!" Sam and Jim shouted at the top of their lungs. Jim threw the chair leg over the desk. 

"Spare him his - bollocking hell!" George yelped. Sam fell backwards off her chair, laughing until there were tears running down her face. Jim collapsed on the floor next to her, holding the almost-empty third bottle of Firewhisky out as George started over from the beginning. 

"Is this the real life, is this just fantasy?"

Best. Christmas. Ever. 

Chapter Text

Figuring out the golden egg clue had been not at all a challenge seeing as Sam knew the lake was the Second Task. Jim, after sneaking into the Prefect bathroom to listen to the egg underwater, emerged with water dripping from his hair to inform Sam that they were going to steal his invisibility cloak and he had to go and get it from the lake.

There was a good opportunity for some cheating, and the twins and Jim went on an underwater exploration to find the merpeople village where they'd most likely put his cloak. The twins taught Jim the Bubble-Head Charm for the occasion, which was pretty easy to learn. They were ready.

Then, the night before the Second Task, Sam was summoned to McGonagall's office. She wasn't sure what she'd done. There were many possibilities.

"You're late." Was the first thing McGonagall said when Sam arrived.

"No I'm not."

Sam wasn't the only one who'd been summoned; Diggory's Yule Ball date was here, as was a small version of Fleur Delacour and Prefect Moore, who Sam waved at. The Prefect ignored her.

Dumbledore was also there, and he gave Sam a smile in greeting. 

"Excellent, now that we're all here, let's begin." The Headmaster said, looking at them all. "As you know, the Second Task will be taking place tomorrow morning, and you four have been selected to participate."

"We're going to be doing the Task too?" Prefect Moore looked incredulous and mini Fleur looked terrified. Fleur was going to have hell of a disadvantage if she had an eight year old as backup.

"Indeed." Dumbledore said, still smiling in the face of their terror. Sam was smiling too. "You will be helping with the Champions' motivation."

Ah, now Sam got it. What better way to steal what the Champions would miss the most than getting the people who knew them best to choose it? Jim had even hidden the cloak and the map in Sam's trunk to prevent them being stolen. 

"I'm in." Sam said immediately.

Oh, how she regretted those two words. 

She wasn't sure how she ended up soaking wet. She was beyond confused, feeling cold and weightless as she blinked water out of her eyes. When did she get outside? "Wakey wakey, Sammy!"

Sam turned her head and found Jim next to her, also soaked and grinning widely. "Guess where we are."

Still feeling stuck in the state of waking up in the morning when her brain hadn't yet caught up, she looked around in confusion.

The first thing she noticed was the crowd, the cheering and clapping drawing her attention to them. 

The second thing she noticed was that she was currently in the middle of the lake. 

Staring at the dark water all around her, Sam took a second to process this. 

She started screaming.

The entire swim to the shore was one long panic attack, trying to swim as fast as possible and getting away from Jim, who kept dunking them both under the freezing water and shouting out warnings to her about sharks or the giant squid. She knew he was fucking with her, but she still screamed every time. 

She was so relieved when her feet touched solid ground that she ran, ignoring the nurse that tried to wrap her in a towel on her way past in her haste to get as far away from the lake as possible.

Fuck helping anyone with anything ever again.

This would not go unpunished.

Getting into Dumbledore's office and replacing all of his sherbert lemons with Ton-Tongue Toffee disguised as the boiled sweets was her first idea, which was scrapped considering the amount of portraits that were in there who'd grass her up. 

She enlisted the help of the twins, who followed Dumbledore around for three days dressed in obnoxious robes and long white beards, copying his every action and repeating every word he said. When that only amused the man Sam got a bottle of superglue and as many plates, knives and forks as she could carry and stuck them to the gargoyle guarding his office.

Since she wouldn't get to see the payoff for that she levitated the throne-like chair Dumbledore sat on at the staff table into the trophy room and hid it behind the cabinets, replacing it with a small pouffe from the common room.

When Dumbledore came into the Great Hall for breakfast the next day he sat on the pouffe like nothing was amiss, only his head and shoulders visible over the table.

Sam admitted defeat and went after McGonagall instead.

Jim and the twins helped her steal pet cats from all over the castle, and there were a lot of cats; owls were the most popular pet, but they managed to hunt down a few dozen cats and move them to McGonagall's office one by one.

McGonagall knew it was Sam immediately, considering she'd been unsuccessfully getting revenge on Dumbledore all week. Sam told McGonagall that she was only helping her make more friends, and McGonagall took twenty points off her and gave her detention.

Sam did the same thing for a week straight.

For now she was satisfied with her revenge, and started helping Jim prepare for the Third Task.

Not that there was much to do. 

"All you have to do is not touch the trophy." Sam told him the night before the Task, as she'd been doing for weeks now. "That's it. Don't touch the trophy. Just stand in one place and wait for someone else to win."

"That could take ages." Jim complained, lounging across the sofa. "Can I at least run around the maze and fight whatever's in there?" Sam sighed.

"Just take a book or something. We can literally stop Voldemort's entire plan if you just don't touch the trophy."

Jim sighed again. "Why the hell is this his plan so complicated, anyway? I know wizards are dramatic but this is a bit much even for Tim." 

"It's actually a pretty good plan." Jim frowned at her. "It's a Tournament with a high death toll, so if you turn up dead no one would suspect it was him; he gets you to the graveyard, kills you, and sends your body back. You're dead, and no one would know he's back either - the only reason anyone knew he'd got his body back was because Harry beat him in a duel and used the magic trophy to get back with Diggory's body." She gave him a pointed look. "All you have to do is not. Touch. The. Trophy. His whole plan is fucked if you don't turn up."

"Yeah, yeah, don't touch the trophy, I get it."

Sam knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Jim was absolutely going to touch the trophy. If he did, she hoped Voldemort killed him. 

That would get her point across.

Chapter Text

Sam was bored.

Who decided that a maze none of them could see into was a thrilling spectacle? She was glad she was actually in the lake for the Second Task, because this was mind-numbing. The fun largely seemed to come from the anticipation of who would come out of the maze first. 

Sam wasn't having fun. 

Literally all Jim had to do was stand in one place. Diggory and Fleur had already been brought out on stretchers, but Krum was still inside. It had been at least an hour, probably longer, since the Champions had entered the maze. The crowd was starting to get antsy and some of the Ministry officials had decided to go into the maze. 

"Nothing to worry about, folks!" The commentator announced cheerfully. "We're just making sure our remaining Champions aren't in need of a little extra help!"

Sam watched Dumbledore walk over to where the Ministry officials were gathered. Everyone was starting to look nervous. 

Jim had his Potter-Senses, but Sam also had a sense that was specifically for Jim-related antics. This sense was telling her that a Jim-related catastrophe was imminent.

Then Krum was brought out on a stretcher. 

"All you had to do was not touch the trophy." Sam muttered as she got up and made her way down the stands, eyes on where Dumbledore and a flustered looking Minister of Magic were talking with the people who'd brought Krum out. "If you touched it because it was shiny I swear to God..."

As soon as she reached the lawn Jim appeared in the middle of the grass. He landed hard on his back, the glowing trophy flying from his hand. Dumbledore, Fudge, and every other adult went running over to him. 

"Idiot." Sam sighed as the crowd started cheering, and she headed over to the chaos. 

When she reached them she found Jim arguing with the adults, hands flailing as he gestured wildly. 

"- a baby that was left in the oven too long!" Sam caught the end of Jim's rant. The surrounding adults looked deeply concerned for his mental state. He caught sight of Sam and threw his hands up in agitation. "Tell them, Sammy!"

A dozen eyes turned to Sam. "What am I supposed to be telling who, Jim?"

"The thing with the thing!" He pointed at the trophy. "And the guy!"

"Harry -" Dumbledore reached out to him, expression worried, but Jim jerked out of his reach. 

"Don't Harry me!" Jim scowled. "I just had the world's worst acid trip without the acid!" He turned to Sam again. "You should have seen it, Sammy - he was this weird baby thing, and the guy put him into the giant cooking pot and he came out as a full sized Tim! I think someone's spiked me. Call the police."

"He's clearly hit his head!" Fudge blustered, then faltered when Jim rounded on him. 

"You don't know shit, Toffee!"

"Jim," Sam stopped him before he could go off on the Minister. "Use your words."

Jim let out an irritated sigh. "Right," he began, calmer. "Moody was David Tennant -"

"Not exactly."

"Using the doppelganger juice"

"Polyjuice."

"So he could put my name in the fire cup" 

"Close enough."

"Then used the mind control spell"

"Imperius Curse."

"On Quidditch guy"

"Krum."

"To make him make me touch the magic cup"

"The trophy."

"To send me to the creepy graveyard"

"I don't know where that is."

"So that Tim"

"Voldemort."

"Could become full sized!"

"I don't know what that means."

The looks on everyone's faces were priceless. Jim turned to Sam again. 

"Seriously, he was a baby - I swear to God it was the weirdest shit I've ever seen. He wanted to prove that he wasn't a bitch by beating me in a duel, like fuck off, I'm a child! As soon as he untied me I just -" he pointed his wand at the trophy and made a grabby gesture "and fucked off."

No one seemed to know what to say to that. Finally, Fudge said, "I think someone should take Mr Potter to the Hospital Wing."

"Sounds good." Sam grabbed Jim's arm. "Let's go, Jim. You can tell me all about the creepy baby Voldemort." And with that, she pulled Jim along behind her towards the castle. "That could have gone better."

"I honestly felt like I was on drugs." Jim shook his head. "I've had bad trips before but that was so weird I don't think my brain could have come up with it. When he gave me my wand back and challenged me to a duel to do things 'fair' I wanted some acid to make it less trippy."

"Did you do that bit in the film where the wands touched?" She asked, and Jim snorted.

"No, as soon as I had my wand I ran behind a gravestone and summoned the stupid cup. I literally just left. I wasn't dealing with that shit."

When the Professors and Sirius joined them in the Hospital Wing to try and figure out what actually happened Jim had calmed down enough to tell the whole story.

Unfortunately, it was Jim telling the story. 

Voldemort had apparently given 'a really boring speech about his life story', and hearing it from Jim just confused things. It required a lot of translating on Sam's end, but eventually they got there. 

Doctor Who had been snuck out of Alcatraz by daddy Crouch, who was keeping him under the mind control spell. He'd taken his son to the big Quidditch thing where Doctor Who escaped and stole a wand to cast his gang sign in the sky, then killed daddy Crouch and went looking for Tim because people were gossiping about him being in Antarctica. They kidnapped real Moody and used doppelganger juice so Doctor Who could put Jim's name in the fire cup and cast the mind control spell on Quidditch guy to make sure Jim got to the magic cup while he fucked off to the creepy graveyard to set up the big cooking pot to make baby Tim full sized. 

As soon as Jim stopped talking Sam sighed and began translating.

Barty Crouch broke his son (also named Barty Crouch apparently) out of Azkaban and was keeping him under the Imperius Curse. He took him to the Quidditch World Cup (for God knows that reason) where he escaped and stole a wand to cast the Dark Mark in the sky. He killed his father and followed rumours to find Voldemort (Sam didn't know where he was, but she doubted it was Antarctica) and they kidnapped Moody so Crouch the second could come to Hogwarts in his place to put Jim's name in the Goblet. He cast the Imperius Curse on Krum to make sure Jim would be sent to Voldemort while he went ahead to prepare the ritual.

Sam couldn't translate the cooking pot or baby Voldemort because even she couldn't understand him. 

Jim struggled to recall a lot of the details because he'd had an itch on his nose that he couldn't scratch because he was tied up. 

This, more than anything, had the Professors looking at him like he was insane, unable to comprehend how Jim could focus on an itchy nose over a Dark Lord coming back to life. 

It really shouldn't have been a surprise. Of course Jim would ignore a resurrected Dark Lord because he had an itchy nose. What did they expect at this point?

Thankfully, there was proof besides Jim's insane ramblings. Finding real-Moody locked in a trunk in his office gave Jim some credibility, especially when the man woke up and confirmed Barty Crouch the second was his kidnapper.

The tattoo on Snape's arm also counted as proof, because Voldemort had all his friends get matching tatttoos that he could use to summon them to him and he'd invited them all to his resurrection party, but Snape couldn't go because he was at work. 

"Write that down." Jim had whispered to Sam when Snape explained this. "We need to do that with our gang."

The Minister didn't believe a word of it. He thought Jim was completely insane and Dumbledore was also insane for believing an insane person. Even with their proof he was adamant that Dumbledore had gone senile and stormed out of the Hospital Wing to get away from the insanity.

Sam really didn't blame him. 

By the end of term everyone thought Jim was insane - or at least more insane than usual - because he made a point of telling everyone he talked to about his acid trip. If anyone hadn't believed Rita Skeeter's article about him being a nutcase before they sure as hell did now.

To be fair, if Sam didn't know the plot she'd think he'd lost it too.

"Well, another year, another success."

Sam stared at him. The train was pulling out of the station and it was time for their usual recap.

"You call this a success?" 

"Yup."

"How?"

"We've got the plot back on track." He said, laying down across the seats. "We have our future knowledge again, we're ahead of the game. Besides, how boring would it have been if Tim wasn't back?"

Jim...

Had a very good point.

"You know what? You're right." She agreed, also lying down to relax. "We did a good job."

Chapter Text

For the first time, Sam didn't have to come up with an excuse to get away from her fake-family.

Since Voldemort was back Jim was under house arrest so the Dark Lord couldn't just kill him on the street and be done with it. Seeing as Sam and Jim were a package deal, Sam was also under house arrest. 

It wasn't as boring as she thought it would be. 

Apparently Dumbledore had a gang of his own, and they were the title of the current book. 

The Order of the Phoenix were the Headmaster's group of anti-Voldemort soldiers, an odd bunch of people who were constantly coming and going from Grimmauld Place - now somewhat liveable - which was acting as Headquarters, meaning there was plenty of entertainment.

Especially when the Weasleys moved in. 

After finishing their OWLs, the twins had finally started working towards their dream of opening a joke shop. With Jim's initial funding they'd been making plenty of money selling their products as mail-order items using owl post, but this year - behind their mother's back - they had finally bought a premises in Diagon Alley and were setting up their shop for when they finished school this year. 

The only products they hadn't quite finished were the fireworks. There had been many complaints about the frequent explosions from the twins' room at Grimmauld Place, but their line of Weasley's Wildfire Whiz-bangs was coming along quite nicely. 

There was a smear campaign by the Ministry against Jim and Dumbledore, calling them insane and senile respectively. Jim had been collecting newspaper articles about his insanity and sticking them together in a collage in his room, much to Sirius' growing concern. 

A very strange development had been Jim's Potter-Senses getting an upgrade.

"It's just snow globes!" Jim was constantly complaining to Sam. He was now reading Voldemort's mind in his sleep, and for some reason the man was obsessed with a particular snow globe in the 'creepy snow globe room'.

Sam actually knew what he was talking about; she remembered a scene where there was a fight with the Death Eaters in a room full of crystal balls (or snow globes) but the exact details were evading her so she really wasn't much help. 

So, they decided to just ask. 

The dozen or so adults gathered around the table in the kitchen in the middle of a meeting stopped their discussion when Sam and Jim walked in unannounced. They sat in the two empty chairs and looked around at the attendees.

Sirius sighed. "Harry -" 

"What's Tim up to, then?"

The Order looked at him in confusion. "Tim?" Lupin asked.

"Lord Vanderpump."

"Lord Voldemort." Sam corrected. "And his name's Tom."

"I'm pretty sure it's Tim."

"He literally spelled it out for us." Sam mimed writing in the air. "If it was Tim it would have been 'I Am Lord Vildermort'."

"Wait - will you... What?" Sirius asked, looking lost. 

"We met him when he was a diary." Jim explained. "His name's an anagram, he wrote it in the air for us: Tim Marvellous Riddle, then it turned into I Am Lord Valentine."

Sam couldn't even correct him because she honestly didn't know where to start. Plus, she didn't remember what Voldemort's middle name was.

It wasn't Marvellous, though. That she was sure of.

"Harry," Sirius tried again. "I know you want to be involved -"

"We know about the snow globe." Jim cut him off, earning a dozen bewildered looks. 

"What?" Lupin was the one to ask. 

"Jim has Potter-Senses." Sam told them. "He gets headaches when Voldemort's nearby. He can detect a Dark Lord at thirty paces."

"And I can read his mind." Jim added, very proud of himself. 

"Hold on," Sirius was starting to look a little panicked. "What do you mean you can 'read his mind'?"

"I mean I can read his mind."

"Only when he's asleep." 

"Shut up, Sammy. I know he's after the snow globe - it's on row ninety seven in the creepy snow globe room." Jim said confidently. "I want it." Sam sighed. 

"You don't even know why he wants it." They'd been having this argument for several days now. 

"I don't care. If he wants it, I want it first. Those are the terms and conditions you agreed to."

"No, the agreement was if it annoys him we have to do it." Jim grinned.

"Sammy, he's obsessed with the snow globe, it'll piss him off. Trust me on this."

"Okay, can we get back to the part where you can read Voldemort's mind?" Sirius was not over this at all. "How long has this been happening?" 

"A few weeks." Jim said dismissively. "It's like sneak previews of his evil plans."

"On the next episode of Voldemort Does A Bad." Sam said in her best narrator voice.

The poor Order members looked like they couldn't believe what they were hearing. "Merlin's beard..." Lupin muttered, running a hand down his face. "Do you two have the ability to take anything seriously?"

"No, but he does." They said in perfect sync, pointing at Sirius.

"Okay, no." Sirius did, in fact, look very serious. "This isn't a joke - what if he can read your mind? Have you even thought about that?"

"God help him if he can. I feel sorry for whoever has to see what goes on in his head." Sam jerked a thumb at Jim, who shrugged. 

"All he'd see is that scene from Dumbo with the pink elephants on constant repeat."

"You too?" Sam asked in surprise.

"You - what is wrong with you two?" Sirius looked slightly frazzled.

"Look," Lupin said calmly. "We know you two like to mess around, but this isn't a joke, okay?"

Sam rolled her eyes. 'Like to mess around', who did he think they were, the twins? They didn't mess around. They ruined things. Spectacularly. They were pro's.

"Of course." Jim straightened up, his expression one of utmost professionalism. "We're listening. Carefully. Right, Sammy?"

Sam also sat up straight and folded her hands on the table in the most proper way possible. "Yes. Absolutely. I can honestly say we're paying attention."

"Okay." Lupin looked sceptical, like he didn't want to test their charade. "Harry, what have you seen?"

"Snow globes." Jim said seriously. "Lots and lots of snow globes, and he's obsessed with this one on row ninety seven. I don't see why, it looks like all the other snow globes."

Wary looks were shared among the Order. "Alright." Sirius said slowly. "Alright." He repeated, like he was gearing up to say something he didn't want to. "They're not snow globes -"

"Sirius." Mrs Weasley warned, but Sirius ignored her. 

"They're prophecies. And the one he's after is about you and him."

Jim raised an eyebrow. "Okay..." He said slowly. "Does it reveal my ultimate weakness? Because I don't have one. They don't call me Jim The Unkillable for nothing."

"They don't call you that." Sam told him. 

"He's heard the first half of the prophecy." Sirius continued quickly before their attention was diverted. "It's why he came after you in the first place. He thinks that if he can get the prophecy and hear the rest he'll find out how to kill you."

"So it does reveal my ultimate weakness." Jim looked at Sam. "What's my ultimate weakness?"

"Boredom?" Sam offered. "Fondant icing?"

"It tastes weird. Don't you think it tastes weird?"

"You're the only one who thinks that."

"The problem is," Sirius once more dragged their focus back to him, "only the person who the prophecy is about can touch it."

"Great." Jim clapped his hands. "Let's go get it."

"We want it at the Ministry." Most-likely-real-Moody said. "Having him spend all his time and resources trying to get the prophecy is a good way to buy us time. His main goal right now is to lay low and get the prophecy, but he doesn't know the only people who can get it are you and him. It's a good way to catch Death Eaters in action, and eventually he'll have to go and get it himself, revealing himself to the Ministry in the process."

Jim thought about this for a long moment. "Okay," he nodded, still businesslike. "We understand, don't we, Sammy?"

"Absolutely." She nodded too. "Complete and utter understanding of the situation."

"We must protect the snow globe."

"We'd kill any one of you for the snow globe."

"We'd die for the snow globe."

"Don't worry, we will save Christmas."

Sirius folded his arms on the table and put his head into them.

Chapter Text

"So, how do we get the prophecy?"

Sam, lying upside down on the bed, looked at Jim, who was standing on the ceiling from her perspective.

"It's in the Department of Mysteries." She informed him, and he frowned. 

"What's that?"

"No idea. I can remember the name. It's in the Ministry."

Jim joined her on the bed, also lying upside down with his head hanging over the edge. "So we're basically breaking into the Houses of Parliament." Sam shrugged as best she could upside down. "We don't even know where it is."

"Mr Weasley works there." She reminded him. "I'm sure the twins know where it is."

"They can tell us when their dad goes home, too. We can sneak in when everyone's left." Jim nodded. "Okay, sorted."

"Nope." Jim looked over at her curiously. "Voldemort turns up there at some point. He has a big fight with Dumbledore, it's a really cool scene."

"I don't want Dumbledore there, he'll ruin my plan."

"You have a plan?" Sam asked in disbelief. Jim nodded. "What is it?"

Jim grinned at her and got up, and Sam sat up herself as she watched him dig through his trunk for a moment before he returned to the bed with a seventh year Potions textbook. "There's this thing, liquid luck." He said as he sat down, opening the book to a bookmarked page. "Look."

Sam scanned the page. "Jim, you'd need the Potions equivalent of a PhD in Chemistry to be able to make this. We haven't made one successful potion in the history of forever."

Jim scoffed. "I don't mean we have to make it." He said, like the idea was as ridiculous as it sounded. "We buy it from somewhere. It's probably expensive as shit, but I'm fucking rich - or we can pay someone to make it for us."

Sam blew out her cheeks as she thought. "Maybe. Where would we find this PhD Potion Master?"

"Someone in Knockturn Alley probably knows, we'll ask around."

"Okay, so you drink the luck potion. Then what?" Jim grinned. 

"We need a gun."

"Jim," she said as patiently as she could. "You don't know how to shoot a gun."

"That's what the potion's for!" Jim said excitedly. "I don't need to be a good shot, because I'll be lucky!"

Against her will, Sam was slowly becoming on board with this idea. "Okay." She said finally. "There's probably someone in Knockturn who can find a gun for enough money." Now she was fully on board with this plan. "So, we get the potion, get the gun, get Voldemort to the Ministry and...?"

"Kill him."

"And then?" Jim frowned at her. "He won't actually be dead. Horcruxes, remember?"

They'd stumbled across this vital information when they were stealing books from the Restricted Section. Sam had been reading Magick Moste Evile, a book that greatly advanced the study of Dark Magic that had quickly become her favourite read, every page more interesting than the last. She'd found the word 'Horcrux' halfway through and it had been a total eureka moment.

She'd been trying to think of that word from the beginning, having the 'hor' but couldn't think of the actual word, like a song she wanted to listen to and couldn't remember the name of.

The book didn't really give any useful information; there was a brief mention, but no detail of what they actually were or how to make them. They were considered so vile that a book on the Dark Arts was unwilling to say anything. The only thing Sam knew was that Voldemort made a few and they had to destroy them. 

She doubted they'd just stumble across them, but she had no idea where or what they were. There was a zombie lake and the bank robbery, and a sword, but that was it.

"It took him ten years to come back last time." Jim was unconcerned with this hurdle. "We'll have loads of time to actually kill him."

Sam couldn't find a flaw in this plan. "Okay. Luck potion, gun, and more books. A trip to Knockturn it is."

"Sounds like a plan." Jim said eagerly. "How do we get to Knockturn?"

"No idea."

They still hadn't come up with a plan to get to Knockturn by September 1st, but they had plenty of time. Everything always happened at the end of term anyway. 

It was clear that the entire school had been reading the articles about Jim's insanity all summer. No one wanted to come within fifty feet of him, whispering and pointing as he passed, watching him like he was liable to explode at any given moment. 

Honestly, Sam wasn't sure why this was what made everyone think Jim was a compete nutcase. They'd done far worse in their four years here. 

At least the Death Eater spawn knew Jim wasn't lying.

"Did your dad tell you about the creepy graveyard?" Jim asked Malfoy as soon as they got into the common room after the start of term feast. "Tim challenged me to a duel! And he stole my blood for his weird cooking pot - and that guy cut his hand off! Your dad missed that bit, though. He only turned up for the speech."

The Slytherins were staring at him in silence. Sam bit her lip to keep from laughing at their expressions.

"No one's listening to me." Jim complained moodily. "The Ministry keep telling people he's not back. I had proof goddammit."

"Ten things the Ministry want you to ignore about Voldemort." Sam said, grinning at the flinches that went around the room. "Number four will shock you."

"Are you lot going to join his cult?" Jim asked the room at large, rocking back on his chair. "You get matching tatttoos. Or you can join our cult."

"So we're definitely a cult now?" Sam asked. Jim only shrugged. 

No one said anything. Finally, Malfoy asked, "You're not... worried that the Dark Lord is back?"

Jim scoffed. "Why would I be? Last time we had a fight I won, and I was a baby then. There's a reason I'm called Jim The Unkillable."

"You're not." Sam said. Jim ignored her. 

"Besides, our cult is way better. We've got an arsenal." 

"Very powerful weapons of mass destruction." Sam confirmed.

"Tim won't know what hit him." 

The Slytherins shared uneasy looks before they unanimously decided to go to bed. "Don't forget, we're recruiting!" Jim called after them. As soon as the last student was gone Jim turned to Sam. "I have an idea."

Sam raised an eyebrow. "Do tell."

They spent all night on Jim's idea, and by the time the Slytherins woke up the next morning they were good to go. 

"What's this?"

That was Pansy Parkinson's - who'd been the first to enter the common room - reaction when Sam handed her the leaflet the second she stepped into the room. 

"Propaganda." Jim said with a bright smile, handing a leaflet to Tracey Davies, who looked down at it in confusion. 

The two of them had spent the whole night working on the leaflets, most of that time spent duplicating them so they had enough for the entire school. Jim had finally come up with their logo, the Apple logo but a yellow lemon with a bite out of it instead; his reasoning was that wizards didn't know what Apple was, so no one would sue them. Above the lemon in big yellow letters was: YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU. Underneath the design read: Join The Sherbet Lemons Today!

Jim designed the cover while Sam had the job of actually coming up with the contents of the leaflet, and she'd done a damn good job of it. She'd listed the reasons their gang (or cult, she didn't know anymore) was superior, like being able to wear whatever you wanted to meetings and not forced to get a tattoo when joining - though it was an option - and if Jim ever needed to be resurrected no one would be required to remove any body parts. 

There were a lot of insults directed at Voldemort and the Death Eaters, attacking their gang sign and their uniform and multiple reminders that Voldemort couldn't kill a baby and was prone to blowing himself up when attempting to do so. 

Really, the choice was obvious. 

"What's Weekend At Bernie's?" Nott asked, flipping through a leaflet.

"Ah yes, rule fourteen." Jim nodded. Rule fourteen stated that if any members died during a fight they were allowed to 'Weekend At Bernie's' them. 

"We'll carry your corpse to classes and make people think you're still alive." Sam explained, handing out leaflets as more people emerged room the dorms. "A maximum of three days, but you can specify how long you want to be Bernied."

Nott gave Sam a faintly confused but mostly terrified look. About half the House shared his sentiment while the rest looked deeply disturbed.

"Sign up today and get a free pair of sunglasses!" Jim said enthusiastically. "Spread the word! We need more members for the fight for the snow globe!"

Chapter Text

Sam did not like Professor Umbridge.

The horrific shade of pink she wore would have been enough reason alone, but there was something so grating about that little fake cough of hers that made Sam want to stick half a dozen cough sweets down her throat and watch her choke on them. 

But Umbridge had an unfathomable power, a power that even Voldemort didn't have, a power that could destroy them. 

Boredom.

Sam stared down at Chapter One, Basics For Beginners. Umbridge had instructed them to turn to this page and read in silence. 

It was torture. 

It was the book version of Professor Binns, all of the ghost's boringness contained in a few pages. Sam was convinced Umbridge had infused it with horse tranquillizer, it was that sleep inducing.

Two minutes in and Jim had enough. 

Jim raised his hand. 

Umbridge ignored him. 

This went on for a while. 

The rest of the class decided watching Jim was far more interesting than reading their books, and with the entire class starting at him Umbridge could ignore Jim no longer. 

"Yes, Mr Potter?" She finally asked. Jim straightened up, clearing his throat. 

"When do we get to the part of the lesson where you teach us to fight Lord Volleyball?"

"Lord Voldemort." Sam translated. There were flinches from the surrounding students, along with a few gasps and even a terrified squeal from somewhere. 

Umbridge stared at the two of them with a very fake, very patronising smile on her face. 

"Let me make things quite clear," Umbridge turned to address the entire class. "You have been told" she glanced at Jim "that a certain Dark wizard has returned from the dead. This is a lie."

Jim frowned. "No, he's back. He's probably at the beach getting a tan. He's really pale."

"I thought he looked like he'd been left in the oven?" Sam said, and Jim shook his head. 

"That was when he was the weird baby thing. When the guy put all the ingredients in the cooking pot he came out full sized and really pale. He's a weird looking bloke."

"Ah, makes sense." Sam looked to Umbridge. "So you're not going to teach us to fight evil?"

"There is nothing out there you need to worry about fighting, Miss Granger." God this woman's voice was infuriating, girlish and sweet and it made the hair on the back of Sam's neck stand up. What was this creature? "The Ministry guarantees you are not in any danger, and any rumours that suggest otherwise are completely unfounded. People do not return from the dead."

"But he wasn't dead." Jim informed her. "He was hiding under a turban a few years ago so he could steal the immortality stone from the Mirror of Wohsi."

"And then he turned into a diary and set a giant snake loose." Sam added. "Did you know he used to be fit?"

"And last year he was all over the place, killing people, doing evil things." Jim told the deeply disturbed class. "He got Doctor Who to put my name in the fire cup so I'd go to the creepy graveyard and he could use my blood in his cooking pot."

"And now he's at the beach." Sam concluded. "So we need to know how to fight him before he comes back with a tan and -"

"Out." Umbridge said, pointing at the door. Jim looked offended.

"What for?"

"For disrupting class with ridiculous lies." She said, looking mildly irritated but her voice was still disgustingly sweet. "I will see both of you back here at five o'clock tonight for detention. Now get out."

Jim scoffed. "Ridiculous lies." He said as he got up. "Come on, Sammy. We'll find someone who appreciates our tales of victory."

"Snape." Sam got up too, grabbing her bag. "He's a good listener."

Once they were outside and the door closed behind them, Jim snorted. "Wow, this is going to be easier than I thought. Five minutes in and we're free. Snape lasted months."

Sam linked their arms. "And we have detention with her." She said cheerfully. "She's going to be stuck with us for hours. I reckon we can get her to quit by the end of the week."

She never thought she'd be eager for a detention, but they needed to get rid of this woman ASAP. If she heard that fake cough one more time she was actually going to strangle the Professor. 

Whenever she imagined Hell, Sam had always thought about fire and brimstone, demons and tortured souls everywhere with the Devil sitting on a giant throne holding a pitchfork.

The Devil was sitting there, but she didn't have a pitchfork.

Hell, it turned out, was an unholy shade of pink. Pink everywhere, everything draped in lacy covers and vases of dried flowers sitting on doilies. Instead of the screams of the damned there was the sound of two dozen kittens meowing from the ornamental plates on the walls. 

Sartre was wrong. Hell wasn't other people. Hell was kittens.

"Should I cut my balls off and leave them at the door?" Jim whispered.

"They'll shrivel and die in here otherwise." Sam looked around the office. It was nauseating.

She was no longer a cat person.

There were two desks waiting for them, far apart so they couldn't talk. As soon as they were sitting down Umbridge reached into a wooden box reminiscent of the ones Ollivander kept his wands in, pulling out two long, thin black quills with wickedly sharp points. 

"Here, these are rather special quills of mine." The woman said sweetly, holding them out like she was giving them a gift. "I want you to write I must not tell lies."

Sam didn't bother pointing out that they hadn't actually lied about anything - to her, at least - and took the offered quill. She tapped the end with her finger and a little bead of blood welled up from the tiny hole immediately.

Very pointy.

"You haven't given us any ink." Jim told Umbridge. 

"Oh, you won't need ink." There was the suggestion of a laugh in her voice. Sam shrugged and put the quill to parchment, and I must not tell lies appeared in bright red ink. She startled in surprise when the words gouged themselves into the back of her hand. They disappeared straight away, and she realized that she was actually writing in her own blood. 

That... That was metal as fuck. 

She looked up at Umbridge and found her looking right back, a smug little smirk on her face. To Sam's left Jim let out a surprised, "Ow! What the fuck?"

He was staring at the back of his hand. Other than it being a little red, there was no sign of the words that had been carved there. 

"No talking, Mr Potter." Umbridge said, that smirk widening when Jim looked at her incredulously.

He glanced at Sam, a clear what now? expression on his face. Immediately, Sam's initial plan of annoying Umbridge was gone as she waved the quill a little, mouthing the word 'tattoo'.

Jim grinned and went right back to using the quill. Sam did the same. Their plan to get her to quit would have to be put on hold until they had their tatttoos. 

Every now and then she'd examine the back of her hand, disappointed each time. After six hours the back of her hand was red raw, but there was no tattoo. 

What a useless quill.

When Umbridge finally called them up to her desk Jim also had no tattoo. He looked as disappointed as Sam felt. 

Umbridge tutted. "I don't seem to have made much of an impression." She said at the sight of their red hands. "You'll have to come back tomorrow. Five o'clock. You may go."

When Sam passed her desk she grabbed the parchment she'd been drawing on and shoved it into her bag, Jim wisely copying her. It wouldn't do for Umbridge to see their designs. 

"That's crap." Jim complained, flexing his fingers and frowning at the raw skin. "I thought it was supposed to stick."

"Maybe it takes a while." Sam looked down at her own hand. It felt like she had road rash. "She did say she hasn't 'made an impression'."

Jim's frown disappeared, a smile on his face instead. "All we have to do is keep getting detentions with her! We'll have our tatttoos in no time."

It took three more detentions to get their tatttoos. Five hours into detention number four and Sam stopped drawing when the skin didn't heal over. She stared at it for a few seconds just to make sure then went right back to drawing. She wanted to make sure it stuck. 

"Hands." Umbridge demanded two hours later, and Sam practically skipped over to the desk to proudly present her new tattoo. 

Umbridge's smug smile disappeared at the sight of the Lemon-Apple logo on the back of Sam's hand, and when she looked over at Jim's her expression twisted in fury at the sight of the gang logo (neater than Sam's) similarly carved into his skin. He was beaming at his work, and Sam was very pleased with her own. 

"You... You despicable little beasts!" Umbridge shouted, eyes flashing with a burning hatred. "Out!" She pointed at the door, face flushed in anger. "Get out!"

Sam grinned, more than happy to do so. "Thanks for the tattoo!" Jim said brightly as they left, giving Umbridge a little wave as they stepped out of her office. "You saved us a lot of money - tattoos are expensive!"

The door slammed closed with a wave of Umbridge's wand. 

"Success." Sam held her hand up to examine. It still hurt and it was still bleeding, but she had her tattoo so it was a win. "Do you think she'll retaliate?"

"And do what?" Jim asked, wiping the blood off of his hand with his sleeve. "I can't write with my left, she can't pull the same trick twice."

"Okay," Sam clapped her hands, regretting it immediately when pain shot through the back of her right hand. "Ow. So, what's next."

Jim looked at the closed door as he contemplated this. "We're ahead of schedule. We weren't supposed to be banned from detention until next week." He shrugged. "Time to call in reinforcements."

Chapter Text

When the newspapers were delivered and the Great Hall immediately filled with whispers, Sam's only thought was:

What did Jim do?

She looked over at him, but he was completely ignorant of the sudden change, far too busy spreading an unholy amount of jam on his toast. 

Sighing, Sam took her own copy of the Daily Prophet from the owl and unrolled it. 

What she read was far worse than anything she could have imagined. 

Umbridge was now the High Inquisitor, with the right to sit in on and inspect any class and determine if the Professors were worthy of keeping their jobs. 

"This requires our urgent attention." Sam said, and when Jim finally looked up she turned the newspaper around to show him. He frowned. 

"Very urgent attention." He took the newspaper and got to his feet. Sam followed him, passing by the Gryffindor table to get their backup. "Oi, dumb and dumber." Jim snapped his fingers at the twins. "Crisis meeting."

They went to the no-longer-forbidden corridor, their official meeting place, and gathered around the teacher's desk. Jim slammed the newspaper down on the wood. "Plans A through D are now scrapped, we can't afford to wait."

"We have to nip this in the bud before it becomes a real problem." Fred said seriously. George nodded. 

"We have a duty to this school." 

"And to our fellow students."

"And Professors."

"We can't let more Ministry lackeys teach here."

"One is one too many."

 Jim put his hands flat on the desk and leaned on them. "This is no longer war, it's an insurrection."

"Pure anarchy." Sam agreed, looking down at the paper. "Woolworths can't help us here."

"We need to take a trip to Diagon." George decided after a moment. "All our stock is at the shop, we took the last of it over there yesterday."

Jim's eyes widened. "You can get to Diagon from here? And you've never told us?"

Fred shrugged. "Yeah, you can just take the bus." Jim frowned at him.

"We can get a bus?"

"The Knight Bus." George said, like they were supposed to know what that was. "You can get from here to Diagon Alley in five minutes. We know the conductor."

Jim was grinning now. "Time to take that little trip, Sammy." 

"And where are you two planning on going?" Fred asked curiously. 

"Knockturn." Jim told them, and both twins looked surprised for a second before they were grinning right back. 

"We're in." 

"We can show you the shrunken head stall!" Jim said enthusiastically. Sam sighed. They were not getting a shrunken head. 

They had to wait for Friday night/Saturday morning to take their trip when their absence was unlikely to be noticed. They set off at three in the morning, using the secret passageway behind the statue of Gregory The Smarmy on the fifth floor that let them out right behind the Post Office in Hogsmeade.

When they reached the end of the village George stuck his right hand out like he was hailing a taxi and, with a bang Sam was sure would wake up the whole village, a triple-decker purple bus appeared out of thin air and screeched to a halt in front of them. The words 'The Knight Bus' were written over its windshield in gold letters. 

Sam loved it. 

The bus was empty at this hour, and Sam jumped up onto one of the beds that had replaced the seats. Jim lay down next to her and the twins joined them, the four of them just about fitting on the bed. 

There was another bang and Sam let out a startled shout as she was thrown backwards by the sudden speed they were going, George - who'd grabbed the railing in preparation - the only thing stopping her fall when she grabbed onto him. 

A glance out the window showed a completely different street they were barrelling down at an impossible speed, and Sam had barely got her bearings when there was another bang and they were on a motorway, then a country lane.

Sam was beyond relieved when they finally arrived at their stop, and she had to spend a good minute standing there with her hands on her knees as she tried not to throw up. "That was worse than taking a taxi after a night out." She said, and a glance over at Jim told her he thought the same. 

A bus that erratically jumped from one place to another was the worst form of wizard transportation she'd used so far. 

Or so she'd thought.

Fred and George, being of age, now had the ability to Apparate. 

And Sam was never going to be taking the Apparition Test because Apparating was awful. 

She now knew how a milkshake felt when it was sucked up through a straw. She'd never be able to order a strawberry milkshake from McDonald's again. 

They landed in the middle of Diagon Alley with the sound of a whip-crack, and this time Sam threw up. 

"Can we stop with the awful modes of transport?" She asked weakly, leaning against the wall. 

"Why didn't we just Apparate from Hogsmeade?" Jim was still holding onto Fred's arm to keep himself standing, looking a little green himself. Fred grinned. 

"And miss seeing your first time on the Knight Bus?"

Next time, Sam was going time throw up on them. 

Nothing in Diagon was open yet, but the shops in Knockturn didn't work on a nine to five basis considering most people preferred to go into the darker Alley at times no one would see them. In their cloaks and hoods, the four of them fit right in with the few people milling about.

Sam now had three idiots she needed to keep track of. She almost lost each of them - at one point all three - to the various stalls. 

George bought a shrunken head before Sam could prevent it. Then Jim bought one because she couldn't tell him he wasn't allowed now George had one. 

Ten minutes in and they had two shrunken heads.

They ended up splitting up; Fred and George wanted to check out the new and exciting shops, and while they were busy Sam and Jim could go and do their shopping. 

Jim set off to the Apothecary while Sam headed to the bookshop.

It didn't take her long to find what she was looking for. All she'd had to do was ask the owner for "really, really evil books. The proper evil ones" and he'd handed over Secrets of the Darkest Arts.

It was a large book bound in faded black leather and it was an archive of evil magic, far darker than anything they'd found in the Restricted Section. It had detailed information on Horcruxes, including the process to create them (which was so disgusting Sam didn't get two sentences through it) the consequences it would have on the creator's soul, how to destroy them. Everything.

Even with the plentiful gold Jim had given her, Sam barely had enough for the book. 

She and Jim met up at the designated meeting place before the twins returned. They were both smiling at their success.

"Got it!" Jim held up a little vial full of bright gold liquid. "Cost a fucking fortune! I need to go to the bank soon."

"The evil Horcrux book rinsed me." Sam told him, and his eyes lit up. 

"You got it?" He asked eagerly. She nodded. "We're all set, Sammy. I found a guy who said he'd try to find me a gun, too - took ages to explain it to him, but he's on it. Shit, this shopping trip is more expensive than our one in New York."

"We need to steal another credit card then?" Jim snorted.

"No, I'm fucking rich."

The twins returned after ten minutes looking very pleased with themselves. Sam was sure she didn't want to know.

Diagon was starting to come to life by the time they left Knockturn, and after a quick trip to the bank they headed to 93 Diagon Alley.

"You two have outdone yourselves." Sam said upon entering the twins' shop for the first time. While the storefront hadn't yet been decorated, the inside of the shop was an assault of colour, oranges and reds and purples, boxes piled up to the ceiling that had yet to be unpacked.

George went over to one of the boxes and started digging through it. "Aha!" He said after a second. "This’ll do us."

He held up a Skiving Snackbox; a wonderful range of sweets that caused nosebleeds, fainting, vomiting, and fevers, all of which could instantly be cured once you were out of class. 

Jim looked delighted. "Yes!" He grabbed one of the boxes for himself. "Okay, I want enough of these to have the entire school on a rota. As soon as she walks into her classroom I want everyone passing out, do that for a week then switch to projectile vomiting, and so on. By the end of four weeks I want there to be no copies of that fucking book that aren't covered in blood or vomit. If she gets more we ruin them too."

"We need a name for this mysterious illness." Sam suggested. The twins looked at each other, then said:

"Umbridge-itis."

Four days after Umbridge became High Inquisitor, the first cases of Umbridge-itis appeared.

For a week straight every time Umbridge entered her classroom every student would drop into a dead faint. By the end of week two Umbridge was starting to lose it, having to send hordes of students out of her classroom, which was constantly covered in vomit - and then, the next week, blood from dozens of spontaneous nosebleeds.

Entire classes were put in detention. 

Not a single student turned up. 

Hogsmeade visits were cancelled, as were Quidditch matches. It was agreed that these were casualties of war and defeating evil was far more important. The entire school had a common enemy and they were willing to sacrifice anything to defeat it.

"For the greater good." Was now the only answer anyone gave when Umbridge spoke to them, said in a monotone, brainwashed voice. She stopped asking anyone anything in class because every student in the room would answer with those four words in perfect synchronisation.

In contrast to Umbridge's own classes, any lesson the woman audited went absolutely perfect.

(Except for Trelawney's, but there was no helping her.)

They'd seriously weighed the pros and cons of fucking with Snape, but they'd finally agreed that torturing him was such an integral part of their lives that Hogwarts just wouldn't be the same without the Potions Professor.

Snape was very, very suspicious when Sam and Jim didn't fuck with him once when Umbridge sat in on their lesson - not even a "sherbet lemon" or an ingredient thrown across the room. It was absolute torture and as soon as the devil in pink left the room Jim swept everything off their desk, their potion (the first ever successful potion they'd brewed) splashing the unlucky students on the next desk over.

Soothed by the destruction, Jim let out a long breath like he could finally breathe. "For the greater good." He said.

"The greater good." Sam, along with the entire class, repeated after him.

Snape didn't even give them detention.

Chapter Text

'Twas two nights before Christmas break, when all through Slytherin House. Not a student was stirring, 'til they were woken by a shout.

"JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!"

Sam jolted awake, the startled exclamations from her roommates indicating they'd done the same. She heard footsteps rushing to the common room as they went to see what was going on. 

Sam took her time, pulling on a pair of socks because fuck walking around the dungeons with bare feet, then followed after the others. 

She found the rest of the House in the common room and was unsurprised to find the source of the commotion to be Jim, who was standing in the middle of the room with a hand pressed to the scar on his forehead, face twisted in pain. 

"Is Voldemort doing A Bad?" Sam asked, silencing the disgruntled grumbling from everyone. Flinches ran around the room as Jim squinted at her. 

"His snake just ate Mr Weasley." Jim informed her. Several people backed away from him, staring uneasily. 

"You did eat cheese before bed." Sam reminded him, but Jim shook his head. 

"No, it was definitely Tim." He argued, hand still on his forehead. "I wasn't him this time though, I was the snake. Do you know how weird it is to be a snake? They move funny."

Everyone looked terrified. Sam pursed her lips in thought. "We should probably tell someone." She decided. Jim shrugged. 

"It's not like I'm going to be sleeping anytime soon, my head is fucking killing me."

Jim complained about his headache all the way to Dumbledore's office. It took them a few minutes of saying the names of different sweets to the gargoyle before they got the right one, and when they finally got to the office door they paused.

"Is he having a party?" Jim asked as they listened to the large number of voices all speaking at once. "And we weren't invited?"

Sam knocked, and the voices stopped at once. "Enter." Dumbledore called. The two of them shared a look before opening the door. 

Dumbledore was by himself. 

What a strange and magnificent man. 

His eyebrows rose in surprise, but before he could say a word Jim said, "A snake just ate Mr Weasley." Dumbledore blinked, for once at a loss for words as Jim winced, hand over his scar. "Do you have any aspirin? Sneak previews give me migraines."

What followed was a very long, very boring wait as one of the portraits went to check on Mr Weasley, who was hanging out at the Ministry, and confirmed that he had in fact been attacked (not eaten, much to the relief of his children who'd also been brought to the office) by a snake. There was another long wait as the portraits came in and out of their frames, visiting other pictures in the Hospital and Grimmauld Place until Mr Weasley was safe and they were all sent to Headquarters.

Sam got the joy of experiencing yet another mode of wizard transportation.

Portkeys.

She hated it. 

What was it with wizards and awful modes of transportation?

Sam landed hard on her ass as soon as the blur of colour cleared and they were in Grimmauld Place's kitchen. Jim, who'd fallen right beside her, muttered "I hate those things."

"Back again, the blood-traitor brats. Is it true their father's dying?"

What a lovely welcome.

"Out!" Sirius shouted at Kreacher immediately. "Get out!"

"Bye!" Jim waved at the elf, who sneered at him before hurrying from the room. 

There was another longer, more boring wait. After five minutes of sitting in the kitchen with the Weasleys and Sirius, who'd decided that the best way to deal with the situation was to sit in silence, Sam and Jim headed off upstairs.

"How's your head?" Sam asked as Jim collapsed on the bed. He shrugged. 

"Eh, I'll live. Don't know if Mr Weasley will though. There was a lot of blood."

Sam sat down opposite him with a heavy sigh. "I'm pretty sure he survives." She said, and Jim shrugged again. 

"We'll see."

Mr Weasley did live, as they found out a few hours later. Jim, however, couldn't have been less concerned, because he was far too happy about his trunk being brought over from the school. 

"I've been waiting to show you." He said the next morning as he dug through his belongings. "It was going to be a surprise for Christmas, but now that the plot's getting good..."

Jim finally found what he was looking for and held it up for Sam to see. Her eyebrows rose in surprise.

"Where the bloody hell did you get that?"

"That guy in Knockturn!" Jim said, cradling the gun like it was something precious. It looked entirely too expensive, the silver glinting in the light. "He sent it yesterday disguised as a book and I sent him the money. Cost an arm and a leg, but we've got it, Sammy!" He looked up at her, grinning. "Murder time!"

Sam grinned right back at him. 

Christmas at Grimmauld Place was boring even after the Weasleys lightened up when their dad was pronounced not dead, but before they went back to school they managed to get Sirius to take them on a trip to Woolworths to get ready for their ongoing war, two excited Weasley twins tagging along. 

For the greater good had taken on a far more hilarious meaning. Sirius had been the one to ask why they were using German Voldemort's slogan for their war against Umbridge, because everyone else had just assumed they'd taken the Dark Lord's slogan for their own agenda. No one had questioned them. No one had asked why. 

They didn't correct Sirius. It was funnier this way. 

The Skiving Snackboxes had been effective, but they'd had their run. It was time to return to their simple methods before moving onto the heavy artillery.

They started small. A few dozen drawing pins, superglued and invisible, on Umbridge's chair at the staff table. Watching the woman leap out of her seat at breakfast was almost as funny as seeing her brush a hand across the chair every day before she sat down on it for a week after. They waited for her to stop, then did it again. 

Rinse and repeat.

Sneaking into her office and stapling every essay, letter, and piece of parchment in and on her desk together was a two minute job, but wrapping everything in tin foil had taken hours.

They kept it simple; a cauldron full of every disgusting potion ingredient they could steal from Snape's storeroom balanced at the top of her door, bags upon bags of glitter covering her classroom, filling up the toilet bowl in her private bathroom with baking soda and the tank with vinegar. 

And the best part was they had an alibi every time. 

It was a fact that both halves of their crew were attached at the hip; you'd never see Fred pulling a prank without George, and if Jim was somewhere Sam was nearby. 

So they'd traded partners.

Now, Sam was causing chaos with George while Jim had partnered with Fred. Whenever a prank was pulled one team made sure to be far away from the scene, and people would confirm that they were nowhere near whatever chaos was occurring.

"No, Professor, they were in the Library."

"I saw them in the Charms corridor when that happened."

"They were handing out leaflets outside. Don't ask what Weekend At Bernie's is. It's better if you don't know."

Years of never being out of each other's sight had paid off big time. 

All their pranking meant that Sam and Jim had been ignoring their upcoming OWL exams. Neither of them particularly cared; they didn't plan on getting jobs after school, Jim's investment in the twins' business and his vault full of money enough to keep them going for a long time, and if all else failed they'd just pawn some of the gold in Jim's vault.

They might not have cared about their future, but the Professors sure as hell did. 

Sam stared at the notice board in the common room. Leaflets and notices about potential carreers had been attacking them all week, but it was the latest addition to the board that had caught her attention. 

CAREERS ADVICE

All fifth years are required to attend a meeting with their Head of House to dicuss their future careers. Times of individual appointments are listed below. 

Sam read it over a couple of times, then smiled. "Jim!" She said, excited. "Look at this!"

Jim read the notice over her shoulder. "Careers advice?" He didn't sound pleased. "Great."

"No, read it properly." Jim looked confused at her enthusiasm, but looked back at the parchment.

"All fifth years are required to attend a meeting with their Head of House to..." He trailed off, staring at the notice board.

Then he was smiling too.

"One on one with Snape!" Jim said with the same excitement Sam was feeling. "And he has to talk to us! Oh, this is going to be so good."

Chapter Text

"I'm here, I'm queer, I'm ready to talk about my career!"

Snape didn't look up from the leaflets he was sorting through, not even flinching when the door Sam had thrown open ricocheted off the wall. 

"Sit down, Granger." He sounded like he was completely done already. Sam did just that, sitting herself down on the chair opposite him. There was the sound of a quill on parchment behind her and when she glanced over her shoulder she found Umbridge sitting at the back of the room with a clipboard on her knee, her bright pink cardigan a stark contrast to the dark dungeons around them. 

Both of them to torture at the same time? 

Excellent.

"This meeting is to discuss your future career." Snape said tonelessly, like he was reading from a script. "I'm here to establish what subjects you need to concentrate on to achieve the required OWL and NEWT scores for your chosen occupation."

"I want to be a lawyer." Sam said immediately.

Snape looked even more despairing as the sound of Umbridge's quill picked up speed. "You want to work in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement." He said dryly. Sam nodded. 

"I've watched every crime drama you can think of. I'm more than qualified."

Snape sighed as he picked out a dark blue leaflet from the pile. "The Department of Magical Law Enforcement ask for a minimum of five NEWTs -"

"How many GCSEs is that?"

Snape didn't acknowledge that she'd spoken. "And accept nothing under Exceeds Expectations."

"We'll, that's easy!" Sam said brightly. "I exceed expectations on a daily basis."

Umbridge did that annoying little fake cough. Snape looked both irritated at the sound and relieved that he didn't have to talk to Sam anymore, and Sam turned around to look at Umbridge.

"I think you'll find, Miss Granger, that the Ministry of Magic looks into the school records of those applying for positions there." Umbridge said, smiling in a patronizing way like she thought she knew something Sam didn't. "And also require any potential employees in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to undergo a stringent series of character and aptitude tests."

Sam smiled right back at her. "So what you're saying is I'll get the job. Great."

Umbridge's smug smile vanished. She looked like she couldn't decide if Sam really didn't get it or if she was taking the piss. 

"What I'm saying is," she said slowly "considering your record, it is unlikely you would be considered for any position at the Ministry."

"Susan - I can call you Susan, right?" Umbridge opened her mouth, but Sam carried on. "Anyway, Susan, I can honestly say that I'm a changed woman. I'm no longer a danger to society. That's God's honest truth."

She could see Umbridge beginning to crack. Bored with her, Sam turned back to Snape.

"So, what birds do I need to get into these salamanders?"

Whatever Snape was about to say was cut off by another fake cough. Sam could see the telltale twitch in his right eye that usually came before an angry outburst. She watched him struggle with his temper for a second before turning to face Umbridge.

"Do you need a drink of water, Sharon?" 

Umbridge looked like she was using just as much restraint as Snape. Which one would break first? 

"Miss Granger, your odds of working for the Ministry are very, very low."

"Thank you, Sarah." Sam savoured the look on Umbridge's face before turning to Snape again. "So, about these frogs."

"Miss Granger -"

"I'm sorry, Shakira, I'm trying to plan my future here. We can talk later."

"Miss Granger, you have absolutely zero chance of being employed by the Ministry of Magic."

Sam's odds were lowering by the second. 

"Your hips might not lie, but I don't know about the rest of you."

Umbridge looked furious, but it was Snape who cut her off this time. 

"That concludes our careers consultation." Sam looked at Snape, who gave her a flat look. "Get out." He said when Sam made no move to leave. 

Mission successful, Sam grabbed the blue leaflet and pulled one of the Lemon Resistance leaflets out of her pocket, shoving it in the stack on the desk. They needed to let students know there was another career option out there.

"Thanks for the help, Professor." She said cheerfully as she headed for the door. "I'll see you at work, Sheniqua."

Jim was the only one in the common room when she got there, the rest of their House at dinner. He looked at his watch. 

"I win."

"Umbridge kept interrupting me." Sam complained as she joined him at the table. "I barely even got to talk to Snape!"

"Excuses, excuses." Jim shook his head. "I beat you by three minutes. You owe me a tenner." Then he put his hands on the table, all business. "Tomorrow."

"Tomorrow what?"

"We're stealing the prophecy." Jim said firmly. Sam raised an eyebrow.

"Why tomorrow?"

"It's the weekend, so no one will notice we're not here, and there'll be less people there." He explained. "There's probably security there at night, but if we're already inside no one will notice we've snuck in. We go in during office hours and wait until everyone fucks off home."

Sam thought this over. "We'll be gone at least a day, probably two. I know we sneak off all the time but someone's going to notice if we're gone that long."

"That's why I got this."

Jim slammed a large potion bottle full of what looked like mud on the table. "What the fuck is that?" Sam asked, eyeing the contents. It looked like their usual attempts at potion making.

"Polyjuice." Jim told her. "I bought it when I got the luck potion. We get the twins to look like us, make an appearance every few hours. No one will suspect a thing."

Sam was honestly impressed at the amount of thought Jim had put into this when his usual plans were 'eh, it'll work itself out'.

"Okay, I'm in." Sam nodded. "How are we supposed to know when everyone goes home?" Jim scoffed. 

"They're civil servants, there's no way they work past five o'clock."

Chapter Text

"This is it?"

Sam frowned at the red telephone box in front of them. There was nothing around but a closed pub and an overflowing skip, the ground littered with broken bottles and cigarettes, every wall covered in graffiti.

"Apparently." Jim was also frowning at their surroundings. It didn't look like the Ministry of Magic was anywhere around here. "Unless Fred and George are taking the piss."

It was possible. 

They stepped inside the phone box anyway. It was cramped, an empty can of cider sitting on top of the phone, and Sam was starting to think this was a prank. 

Jim picked up the receiver and held it to his ear. "What's the number?" He asked, and Sam looked down at the back of her hand where she'd written it. 

"Six, two, four, four, two." Jim entered the number and they waited. 

"Welcome to the Ministry of Magic." A voice announced, and they both jumped. "Please state your name and business."

"James Jebbia and George Zimmer, we're here on behalf of the fashion police." Jim told the disembodied voice. 

"Thank you." The voice said. "Visitors, please take the badge and attach it to your robes."

Two badges came out of where the coins were deposited. Jim picked them up, then snorted. "I'm keeping this." He held one of the badges out to Sam and pinned his own to his shirt. Sam's badge read: George Zimmer, Fashion Police.

"Visitors to the Ministry, you are required to submit to a search and present your wand for registration at the security desk, which is located at the far end of the Atrium."

The floor of the telephone box shuddered and started to descend. Sam pulled the cloak out of the bag over her shoulder and shook it out before throwing it over both of them. 

It took about a minute for the box to reach the actual Ministry, most of the journey spent in darkness as they went lower and lower. When they finally reached the bottom the doors flew open and the voice announced, "The Ministry of Magic wishes you a pleasant day."

A nearby man dressed in scarlet robes looked over at the seemingly empty box and sighed. "Bloody phone box again." He said irritably to the witch next to him. "I keep telling them we need to fix it!"

"We've fixed it three times." The woman said, exasperated. "The Muggles keep breaking it. Who thought using a telephone box - that Muggles use - was a good idea?"

"Must have been a Doctor Who fan." Jim whispered as they moved away from the phone box. 

The Atrium was huge, a massive hall with fireplaces up and down the long walls, the left hand side labelled: Arrivals while the right was: Departures. There was a giant fountain in the middle of the room, a group of golden statues - a wizard, a witch, a centaur, a goblin, and a house-elf - spouting water into the surrounding pool.

"This is so cool." Sam whispered, looking around the giant room. Dozens of witches and wizards, all with the same glum expressions of nine to five workers who had to work on the weekend, were heading towards the golden gates at the far end of the room. 

They kept close to the right hand wall, moving from fireplace to fireplace when those waiting to leave disappeared in emerald flames, pausing at each section of the wall separating the fireplaces. It was a huge test of patience but they finally reached the end of the room. 

Waiting for a break in the crowds of employees, they slipped through the gates and got to the two dozen lifts on the other side. At one point they bumped into a man who didn't even acknowledge the invisible person who'd just walked into him, muttering, "Excuse me" without even glancing in their direction.

These people were dead inside. 

They waited for an empty lift to appear and got on before anyone else could get there, a group of paper airplanes joining them. Jim snatched one out of the air and shoved it in his pocket, then examined the numbers. 

"There." Sam reached out from under the cloak and pressed number nine, labelled DEPARTMENT OF MYSTERIES.

The gates slammed shut and the lift descended slowly. The two of them pressed themselves against the back wall just in case there was someone waiting on the lower floor, but it was empty. 

"Department of Mysteries." The same voice from the phone box announced as the gates slid open, and they stepped out. 

"Creepy." Sam said as the lift closed behind them. They were standing in a hallway that was very different from the colourful and busy Atrium; the black-tiled walls were bare, no windows and only one door at the end of the corridor. 

"Very creepy." Jim agreed. Sam checked her watch. 

"Half four. Stay here, you reckon?"

Jim shrugged. "Might as well."

For a full half hour nothing moved in the creepy corridor. It was eerie, especially with the torches bathing the whole place in a cool blue glow. 

Sure enough, at five on the dot the door at the end of the corridor opened and a crowd of black-robed employees came flooding out. Sam pulled Jim into the staircase on the left as they waited for them to pass. 

All of the workers looked both exhausted and relieved to be headed home, very little conversation as they all made their way towards the lifts. 

"I think I'd rather die than work a nine to five job." Jim muttered as they watched the lift take the employees up to the Atrium.

"They look like they would, too." Sam whispered back.

They waited another half hour, and when no more miserable workers appeared they hurried over the the door. 

Behind the black door was a circular room with a marble floor that looked like dark water, more blue torches along the walls and twelve handleless doors, identical and unlabelled. The second the door closed behind them the wall and doors began to move, spinning with a low rumbling of stone all around them. The light from the torches left vivid impressions of Sam's vision when the room slowed and stopped. 

"Brilliant." Sam said, looking around the room. "Ten seconds in and we're lost."

"One in twelve chance." Jim shrugged and pulled her towards the door directly across from them. 

They stepped into a long, rectangular room that was lit by low-hanging lamps with a few desks surrounding a large glass tank filled with a pale green liquid, and floating inside of it was - 

"Are those brains?" Jim sounded disgusted as he pulled the cloak off of them. Sam stepped closer to the tank, peering at the pale shapes. 

"Yup." She confirmed, watching the brains float around, fascinated. "Does this remind you of those weird lamps with the fake jellyfish inside?"

"Oh shit, yeah." Jim stepped up beside her. He tapped the glass like someone trying to get the attention of a goldfish. "Do you reckon they feed them? What do brains even eat?"

Sam glanced around, but there was no brain food in sight. "I'm guessing that's one of the mysteries."

After failing to get the attention of the brains they tried the door on the left. Sam opened the door and a jolt went through her stomach when her foot met empty air, and she left out a startled scream. Jim grabbed her hand before she went over the edge completely, leaving her balanced precariously in the doorway above a dark abyss.

It took her a moment to realize she didn't need Jim's hand to steady her, because there was no gravity pulling her towards the black pit below, and when she looked up she saw why. 

"Cool!" Jim's voice echoed her own immediate thought. She was staring up at a giant replica of the solar system, huge planets hanging in the endless void of darkness. There were no stars and the only wall was the one the door was set in, everything else just black. 

"There's no gravity!" Sam told him, waving her arm around in the weightless air. Jim grinned, and Sam suddenly had a very bad feeling. 

"Long live the King." He said, and Sam barely had time to widen her eyes in alarm before he let go of her hand. 

She screamed again, desperately trying to grab him as she fell backwards, suspended in mid air. She made the mistake of looking down, her stomach giving another, more intense jolt like she'd missed a step on the stairs - or, more accurately, the entire staircase.

"That's so cool!" Jim said, and when Sam looked back at him she found he was still grinning like an idiot. 

After a moment, once she was sure she wasn't about to drop down into the abyss, she tried moving. It was surprisingly easy, like swimming but with less resistance. Her terror turned to joy. 

"This is Major Tom to Ground Control, I'm stepping through the door!" She sang as she did a twirl in mid air. Jim joined her without hesitation, jumping into the room. 

"And I'm floating in the most peculiar way," he sang along, grabbing her hands and spinning them. "And the stars look very different today!"

After a complete rendition of Space Oddity and floating over to the giant model of Mars, they left the planet room and headed back the way they came until they were in the room with the doors again. As soon as Jim pulled the door closed behind them the room spun again, leaving Sam feeling nauseous. She followed him through the next door. 

"Ooh, shiny!" Was Jim's immediate reaction upon seeing what lay beyond the door. It was indeed very shiny; the long rectangular room was filled with clocks and various other objects that all held miniature hourglasses, a large bell jar at the end of the room giving off a twinkling glow that reflected off of the clocks. Jim immediately went over to a glass cabinet where dozens of necklaces hung inside. He opened the door and picked one up. 

"Jim, don't touch." Sam said, then immediately picked one up to examine. Hanging from the long chain were two gold rings with a tiny hourglass as the centerpiece, and her brain provided her with a nice piece of information.

"They're time travel things." She said, holding the object a little higher to watch the light play off the hourglass. "They use one in the third film to save the bird horse."

Jim peered at the necklace with more interest than before, then pulled the chain over his neck. "Jim." Sam sighed. "This is a mission, not a robbery."

"Time travel, Sammy." He dropped the hourglass under his shirt. "It's another weapon for our arsenal."

Sam shrugged. "Eh, what the hell." She slipped the gold chain around her neck and similarly hid the hourglass under her shirt. "We've watched enough Doctor Who to know what we're doing."

They spent a few minutes at the large crystal bell jar at the end of the room watching as the bird inside hatched, lived, and died on a loop. Once they grew bored of that they turned their attention to the doors lining the right side of the room. 

The room was full of offices, all identical except for the nameplates on the doors; small, cramped rooms with desks, bookcases, and high-backed leather chairs. They spent a few minutes searching the offices for anything interesting, but most of the paperwork that was on the desks were full of words and phrases they had no chance of understanding.

They did find out what each room was called and what their purpose was, as well as a very confusing map detailing the layout out the Department.

Instead of going straight to the Hall of Prophecy, Jim wanted to check out the 'Death Chamber'.

"Well, this is creepy as fuck."

"It's called the Death Chamber, Jim. What were you expecting?"

It was creepy as fuck. 

In a pit in the center of the room was a raised dias that was home to a tall stone archway, cracked and crumbling with a black curtain hanging from it. Jim immediately started climbing down the stairs towards it. Sam sighed and followed. 

When they reached the creepy archway Jim circled it like he was looking at an art piece in a gallery. "Are you hearing voices or is it just me again?"

"No, there's voices." Sam confirmed, stepping closer to the arch. There were whispers she couldn't make out that grew louder the longer she listened. "Where do you reckon it goes?"

"Hello?" Jim shouted at the curtain. "If anyone can hear me, please delete my browser history!"

Sam looked through her bag and found a squashed canary cream, which she threw at the curtain.

It disappeared.

"Huh." Jim said. "Do you think any of the people in there ate it?" Sam snorted at the thought of one of the maybe-ghosts in there turning into a giant ghostly canary. "Do you have any more?"

They spent a while throwing whatever useless objects Sam had in her bag - pens, toffees, her potions book - through the curtain before growing bored and moving on. 

"Aha!" Jim said as soon as they opened one of the many doors lining the creepy death room. "This is it!"

They were surrounded by rows and rows of shelves reaching up to the ceiling, full of hundreds of small, dusty glass orbs. Torches were set at intervals along the shelves, the same blue that lit up the rest of this place. "What is it with wizards and colour schemes?" Sam asked, looking around. "I thought Slytherin was bad with all the green, but this is ridiculous. What's wrong with normal fire?"

"I like it. Gives the whole place that mysterious vibe." Jim looked at the label on one of the shelves. "Okay, we're on row sixty three. This way."

Sam followed Jim down the rows, both of them stopping every now and then to read the labels. She wasn't sure how the hell they were supposed to find the prophecy they were looking for, but halfway down row 97 Jim stopped so suddenly that Sam walked until him. 

"Found it!" His voice echoed loudly. "Look, Sammy!"

The crystal ball looked like the last few hundred they'd passed, coloured smoke swirling idly inside it, and she moved closer to read the label beneath it. 

S.P.T. to A.P.W.B.D.

Dark Lord and (?) Harry Potter 

"Well, that was easy." Sam said as Jim grabbed the prophecy.

"I know, right?" He held the ball up to squint at it. "How'd you reckon we get it to work?"

"We can figure it out when we get back to school." Jim tossed it up in the air and caught it. "Jim, don't break it."

Jim stopped throwing the prophecy around and grabbed the bag over Sam's shoulder to drop it inside, searching through it for a moment before pulling out their replacement.

"Woolworths saves the day again." He said, grinning at the snow globe. He shook it so the fake snow swirled around the house and little Christmas tree inside. "You know, this one's way better. We're doing Tim a favour." He put the snow globe in the empty space where the prophecy had been. "What now?"

Sam checked her watch. "It's only ten o'clock."

"Seriously? Shit, that went quick." Jim looked around the creepy room. "Want to see what else we can steal?"

"Absolutely."

Chapter Text

Getting out of the Department of Mysteries was just as easy as getting in. 

These people needed better security. 

The two of them waited in the spinning door room under the cloak for the employees to turn up. The first man, who looked appropriately miserable for a Sunday morning, stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. As soon as the doors stopped spinning he said, "Thought Chamber." And the door to the brain room opened on its own. 

After the man closed the door and the room stopped spinning, Jim simply said, "Exit."

The door right behind them opened to the corridor with the lifts. 

The Atrium was almost devoid of life, only a few workers milling about this early, the man behind the security desk engrossed in the Daily Prophet. They took the telephone box back up, summoned the Knight Bus, and were back at Hogwarts in time for breakfast. 

"Jim," Sam whined as Jim dragged her along by the hand. "Let me go to bed."

"We need to find out my ultimate weakness!" He said excitedly as he pulled her towards the no-longer-forbidden corridor. "Sleep can wait, Sammy."

As soon as they were in the room Sam lay down on one of the desks. "Go on, then." She said, yawning. Jim pulled the small glass ball out of the bag and held it up. 

"Where's the play button?" He asked, frowning at the swirling mist within. "How the hell do you work these things?"

Sam yawned again. "Have you tried turning it off and back on again?"

Jim shook it, the blue-grey mist swirling around. Then, he tapped it on the corner of the teacher's desk.

It smashed.

Sam sighed. 

"Nice one, Jim. All that work and..." She sat up straight when a ghostly image floated up from the shattered remains of the prophecy. "You've cursed us!"

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches..." The ghost Professor Trelawney said in a detached and eerie voice. "Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."

Ghost-Trelawney faded into mist. Sam and Jim stared at the spot she'd been in for several seconds. 

"Did she die?" Jim nudged the shattered glass with his shoe. "I thought she got sacked? Do you get executed if you get sacked here?"

Sam hopped down off the desk to stand next to him, looking down at the glass. "I'm pretty sure she's alive."

Jim immediately dismissed their maybe-dead Professor. "Well, that's that mystery solved." He said cheerfully. "Powers the Dark Lord knows not is right, I bet Tim's never even seen a gun." He linked his arm with Sam's. "Let's go, Sammy. I need coffee."

With the promise of caffeine, Sam gladly followed him out of the room. 

With that plot finally out of the way, they could go back to fighting the real War.

The Sherbet Lemons now had many allies. An anti-Umbridge movement, the Lemon Resistance. Thanks to Umbridge they now had dozens of Lemon sympathizers, all of them eager to fight for their cause. 

In an effort to combat them Umbridge passed 'Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four', which forbade the regular meeting of three or more students without the High Inquisitor's consent. Any student who broke this rule was to be expelled immediately.

That didn't stop them. 

Umbridge then started up a gang of her own, the Inquisitorial Squad. They were a select group of students (all Slytherins) who supported Umbridge and the Ministry of Magic. Members of the squad wore a shiny silver 'I' on their robes. 

That was their first mistake.

The only thing the badges did was make it easy for the Lemon Resistance to target them. Capsaicin in their drinks, laxatives in their food, Skiving Snackbox sweets on the table at dinner. Fred and George shoved one of them into a Vanishing Cabinet and he turned up in a toilet u-bend and still hadn't recovered.  

After that, the twins sat them down for a very serious meeting. 

"We've decided we no longer care about getting into trouble."

Sam raised her eyebrows. "Is this supposed to be breaking news?"

"Ah, young Sammy, you're missing the point." George said. 

"We've always known where to draw the line." Fred continued.

"Even if we do put a toe over it sometimes."

"But the shop is ready to open and it's time to test our talents in the real world."

Jim looked between them for a moment, then it clicked. "You want to go out in style."

Ah. Of course.

"Indeed we do."

"As much as we hate to leave before breaking Umbridge completely, it's time for us to move on."

"Fly the nest, if you will."

"Spread our wings."

Sam nodded her understanding. "It's been a good run, boys." 

"It's been an honour serving with you." Jim told them. They had a moment of silence, then Jim straightened up. "Let's do this."

It took a lot of preparation, time and resources and recruiting people to assist them. Everyone they asked was more than happy to contribute to the send-off.

One week later and they were ready. 

They spread the word that morning, and when it was finally time for the grand departure the entire school had assembled in the Entrance Hall, students lining the walls and cramped together on the staircase, all of them watching the standoff in the middle of the room. 

Fred and George stood on one side, Umbridge and her merry band of ass-kissers on the other - all of them looking worse Sam and Jim had after coming out of the Chamber of Secrets, covered head to toe in disgusting slime.

"So, you think it's funny to turn a corridor into a swamp, do you?" Umbridge was furious and also covered in filth. They'd timed the swap explosion perfectly, waiting for Umbridge to have a meeting with her little gang in her office and setting it off the moment they left. 

"We think it's hysterical." Fred said with a wide grin, leaning on his broomstick.

"Even funnier since it's the corridor outside your office." George also had his broomstick resting on his shoulder. "We would have preferred to put it in your office."

"But sacrifices must be made."

And before Umbridge could say another word, the twins looked her dead in the eye and said, "The Sherbet Lemons send their regards."

Sam, standing at the back of the crowd closest the doors, opened her box of fireworks.

She ducked down as the fireworks exploded from the box, and from different spots behind the crowd three more explosions went off at the same time. 

In seconds the entire Entrance Hall was full of colour and noise, the screaming barely audible over the repeated explosions as the fireworks began to take shape; bright pink Catherine wheels, dragons made up of all different coloured sparks, rockets burning brighter instead of burning out, sparklers spelling out profanity.

It was glorious.

Shrieking as a Catherine wheel came flying towards her, Umbridge pointed her wand at it and cast the Vanishing Spell. 

It multiplied by ten.

Sam looked up at the bag stuck to the ceiling above them, barely visible through the fireworks, and pointed her wand at it. "Diffindo!"

Two thousand bouncy balls joined the chaos. A second later there was another bang from the opposite end of the Hall and a plume of blue smoke engulfed the crowd there, dozens of hats flying in every direction. 

Their airstrike came shooting out of the Great Hall. Peeves was cackling as he threw water balloons at Umbridge and the Inquisitorial Squad, circling the ceiling with the dragons as the gang tried to fend of both the fireworks and the balloons.

Mounting their brooms, Fred and George kicked off the ground and shot into the air, flying straight through the mouth of a bright orange dragon. It snapped closed behind them and exploded, bright flashes in all colours spelling out: VIVE LA SHERBET LEMONS.

Fred and George, like the heroes they were, flew off into the sunset to the sound of explosions and wild cheering, the students waving the hats from the Christmas crackers.

And Dumbledore, standing in the doorway to the Great Hall, joined in the applause.

Chapter Text

In the no-longer-forbidden corridor on the third floor, the Lemon Resistance was hosting an emergency meeting.

A dozen students were sat behind desks in the abandoned classroom, and as soon as the last person was seated Jim locked the door and joined Sam at the front of the room. He slammed a piece of parchment on the wall and kept it in place with the Sticking Charm.

BY ORDER OF THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC 

Dolores Jane Umbridge (High Inquisitor) has replaced Albus Dumbledore as the Head of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The above is in accordance with Educational Decree Number Twenty-Eight.

Signed: Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister for Magic.

After Fred and George's grand departure the Lemon Resistance had been rounded up and taken to Dumbledore's office to be expelled, only to be saved by the Headmaster when he took the blame for the formation of the Sherbet Lemons. Since the Decree banned student organisations, this one was 'formed by a Professor', so they were spared.

Sam didn't know if Fudge was actually stupid enough to believe that Dumbledore had formed an army named after his favourite sweet or if he was willing to use any excuse to arrest him, but Dumbledore had made a grand escape of his own and was no longer Headmaster.

And Umbridge had taken his place. 

"This," Sam used one of the broken chair legs from their Christmas party to tap the parchment, "must be dealt with."

The assembled students nodded, their expressions serious. These brave soldiers were committed to thwarting evil no matter the cost, each of them having agreed to deny any involvement with the Sherbet Lemons if they were caught and claim to be acting alone.

Jim put his hands on the desk, expression just as serious. "Widespread chaos is no longer an option. This isn't an uprising anymore, it's a targeted attack."

Sam slammed the chair leg on the desk, the thwack making most of them jump. "Getting her to quit is off the table. She had her chance." Jim nodded. 

"We want her to stay."

The students looked confused. "We do?" Lee Jordan asked. 

"Letting her leave is letting her off far too easy." Sam explained. "She needs to suffer."

Now they all looked excited. Jim straightened up. "We need to get inside her head."

Excited whispers went around the room. "How?" Seamus McIrish asked eagerly. 

Jim reached behind the desk and put two large potion bottles down in front of him, a familiar mud-like substance inside.

"Phase one: Operation Amnesia." He said, all business. "We impersonate her; talk to the other Professors and ask them to meet her in her office, give the Inquisitorial Squad orders and report back to her, sneak into her office and move things around. I want her questioning everything from the second she wakes up in the morning until she can't remember what she's done and what she hasn't."

"This is a delicate operation." Sam took over. "This has to be done right. We start small and ramp up the insanity. We need to time it all perfectly, make sure she's distracted while her doppelganger's on the move."

"You can. Not. Get. Caught." Jim looked around the room. "One slip up and she'll catch on, then we'll have to take drastic action."

Looks were exchanged among the Lemon Resistance. "What's drastic action?" Dean Thomas was the one to ask. 

"It's better if you don't know." Sam said. "You don't want to be complicit."

That made everyone more curious, but they wisely decided not to ask. Drastic action was, of course, highly immoral and highly illegal.

Luring Umbridge down to the Chamber of Secrets and leaving her there had been discussed many times, but they were willing to try more humane methods first. 

They could show mercy. 

But if this didn't work they were absolutely shoving her down the pipe and sealing the entrance. It was a shame there wasn't a basilisk to eat her. 

Evil? 

Absolutely.

Did she deserve it?

Absolutely.

That fake cough was really annoying.

The preparation required to pull off Operation Amnesia was arduous but worth it. Sam and Lee had waited until she was at breakfast to get hair from her hairbrush and use the Doubling Charm to duplicate every article of clothing so they could match whatever outfit she was wearing while they impersonated her. The room in the no-longer-forbidden corridor looked like the backstage of a play about Umbridge.

They put names into a hat to choose who would impersonate her each time, the fairest way to do it as (understandably) no one wanted to drink the Umbridge juice. 

And so it began. 

The timing was crucial. They couldn't just start their Umbridge doppelganger mission straight away; they needed her to be stressed and overworked first, already frazzled.

This was easy enough. Umbridge spent her first few days as Headmistress answering summons from Professors who just couldn't get rid of the constant fireworks without her help, clearly just as keen to torture her as the Lemon Resistance was. They were all on the same side in this war. 

Keeping her from getting a good night's sleep was also easily accomplished, and by day three she was dishevelled and exhausted, spending her days running from classroom to classroom to help the Professors with the fireworks disrupting their lessons while operating on little to no sleep.

On day four Operation Amnesia was on. 

McGonagall was the first Professor to be asked by 'Umbridge' to visit her office. Actual Umbridge got the joy of a very irate Transfiguration Professor turning up to her office at six o'clock wanting to know why Umbridge wanted to talk to her about cats.

When the Inquisitorial Squad started saluting every time they saw her all of them were confused when she asked them what they were doing and they told her she'd asked them to do it. 

They upped the insanity slowly; Professors would turn up for the most ridiculous reasons, the Inquisitorial Squad were sent all over the castle fetching her random items, students were bringing cats to her classroom insisting she asked for them. 

Umbridge, sleep deprived and stressed, slowly started to crack.

Sam was 90% sure some of the Professors knew what was going on, but none of them said a word. Sam had gone to McGonagall's office as Umbridge and told her she needed to see her in her office later to talk about Cats the musical, and McGonagall's lips had almost twitched up into a smile as she said, "Of course, Dolores."

Sam managed not to laugh. She did Umbridge's fake cough and left the room. 

When she returned to the no-longer-forbidden corridor they called a meeting.

"Phase one is complete." Sam announced once everyone was sitting down. She was still dressed in Umbridge's disgusting pink ensemble, resting the chair leg on her shoulder. "It's time for phase two."

Jim grinned. "Operation Psychotic Break."

And so they increased the insanity.

Angelina Johnson, who'd joined the Resistance out of a burning hatred for Umbridge after the woman had cancelled Quidditch, spent a week copying Umbridge's handwriting from letters they'd stolen until she could forge it perfectly. She used this skill to write letters to Fudge, telling him that the stress of being Headmistress was getting to her.

They didn't know what Fudge's letters in return were, but after the fourth fake letter Umbridge turned up to breakfast looking more agitated than usual, which was really saying something. 

At least three times a day she'd have a student pass her in the corridor, look her in the eye, and say "Wake up" or "Youre dreaming" then act like they hadn't said a word to her. 

It was pure psychological torture.

(As far as Sam was concerned, Dolores Umbridge deserved it completely. Sam never thought she'd meet someone she despised as much as Joffrey Baratheon, but Umbridge had managed it.)

People would see 'Umbridge' doing the strangest things. Students were constantly going to the Professors to report this worrying behaviour.

"Professor Umbridge told me to take fifty three forks to every classroom."

"I saw Umbridge skipping down the corridor singing a song about tulips."

"The Headmistress told me she needs your help carpeting the staircases."

Umbridge stopped leaving her office, then banned people coming to see her altogether when eight students turned up one after the other asking why she wanted to speak to them about Cars 2.

The Inquisitorial Squad were left to act in her stead, trying to uphold the Educational Decrees while she hid in her office. They quit one by one after having to go to the Hospital Wing for increasingly severe ailments.

Cassius Warrington was the last man standing, determined to keep working for Umbridge no matter what. Sam wrote to Fred and George to ask them where the Vanishing Cabinet was and she and Jim lured Warrington there and shoved him inside.

He hadn't been seen since.

May he rest in peace.

They moved the Vanishing Cabinet to the no-longer-forbidden corridor in the room next to their meeting place to protect it. It was far too useful. 

With no Inquisitorial Squad and unwilling to leave her office, Umbridge had lost all power at Hogwarts.

"Is this a victory?" Jim asked, leaning against the wall opposite Umbridge's office. She hadn't been seen in a week. "I feel a bit cheated."

Sam made a noise of agreement. "Leave her for now." She decided. "She's harmless in there. Give her a false sense of security, let her think she's safe as long as she doesn't leave that room."

Jim sighed. "So we're not putting her in the Chamber of Secrets?" He sounded very disappointed. Sam h'mmed.

"If she comes out of her office we'll flip a coin. Heads she goes into the Vanishing Cabinet, tails she goes into the Chamber."

"That sounds fair."

"I think so."

Chapter Text

Sam sat cross-legged on the desk with the clipboard on her lap, tapping her pen against it. "This is giving me a headache."

Jim glanced at her. "I thought you said you knew how time travel worked." He said, throwing the little red ball across the room. 

"So did I." She said, rubbing her temples in an effort to ward off the impending headache. "This kind of follows the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle."

On the other end of the room, Jim's future-self raised an eyebrow. "The loop thingy?" He asked.

"The casual loop theory of time travel." She clarified, watching future-Jim throw the ball back to Jim. "It's where a future event is the cause of a past event, which makes it the cause of the future event. Both events exist at the same time, but you live it from two different viewpoints."

Jim tossed the ball back to himself. "You're using too many words and I can't understand any of them." Sam sighed, opened her mouth, and was cut off when the door opened.

"Wibbly wobbly timey wimey!"

Sam groaned.

Her future-self gave her an apologetic smile. 

Future-Jim waved at her and she held up a sandwich. "You're the best." He threw the ball to Jim to go get his food. 

Sam needed an aspirin.

"So," future-her jumped up on the desk next to her, taking the clipboard and crossing something out. "In the film Harry was saved by his future-self, which let him go back in time to save his past-self."

"So he was saved by himself even though he hadn't travelled back in time yet?" Future-Jim asked through a mouthful of bacon sandwich.

"Technically and... untechnically." Future-her said slowly, writing something down. "It's a self-consistent stable time loop with no real start." Sam frowned.

"Okay," she said slowly, taking the clipboard back. "So if there's no real start how will we know when we're going to time travel?"

Future-her shrugged. "Can't help you."

"Okay." Jim tossed the ball to future-Sam. "I'm going."

He pulled the time-turner out from under his shirt and held up the little hourglass, spun it once, gave the other Jim a wave -

And disappeared.

"He's at Umbridge's office." Now-current-Jim told her. Sam's future-self took the clipboard so Sam could put her head in her hands. 

"This is insanity." She bemoaned, then lifted her head. "Why did I time travel?"

"Uh... I'm telling you to?"

Sam put her head back in her hands. Future-her pat her on the shoulder. Fuck time travel.

"Right," she said, jumping down off the desk. She wasn't dealing with this. "I'm going."

"It sucks." Future-her said.

"It's wizard transportation." Sam said, holding up the time-turner and spinning the hourglass. "Of course it -"

Time travel did, in fact, suck. The room dissolved in a whirl of colour and she had the dizzying sensation of flying backwards at high speed, the world around her a blur. When the room finally came back into focus she was alone.

Taking a moment to breathe through the nausea, Sam checked her watch. "Oh for fucks sake." Now her watch was wrong. 

This day was just getting worse. 

Sighing, she looked around the empty room, frowning at the teacher's desk where the clipboard had been. 

She needed that clipboard.

"Ah," she said in realization. "Obviously." She'd wondered why there had been a clipboard and pen here when they'd arrived. Clearly, she'd done herself a favour. 

She was so considerate.

Right now she and Jim were at the library reading through books about time travel, then they'd decide to come here and test it and find future-Jim waiting for them. God, this was fucking with her head. 

With nothing else to do, Sam headed to the Hospital Wing.

She swiped one of the clipboards from the beds while Madame Pomfrey was checking on Warrington, who'd shown up three days ago. Sam didn't know where they found him, but he was far too confused and disoriented to tell anyone what had happened. Fred and George's victim had recovered. 

Somewhat. 

Clipboard acquired, Sam made a quick detour to her dorm to get a pen before she went to find Jim. 

He was exactly where he said he'd be, lurking outside Umbridge's office, throwing the ball at her door. When he noticed Sam approach he looked up and gave her a wide grin. "This is great!" He enthused. Sam snorted.

"Yeah, when you're not the one trying to figure it out." She leaned against the wall. "This is giving me such a headache."

Jim leaned next to her, foot up against the wall. "What's that thing again? The loop?"

"Basically, you can't change the present by travelling to the past." She tried to explain. "Like, you can't go back in time and kill yourself. You can play a game of catch, but it's impossible to do anything that makes a time paradox. You're doing what you've already done and you can't change it."

"So it's like That's So Raven?"

"Sure."

Jim threw the ball at Umbridge's door again. "You said there's no real start, right?" She nodded. "So we'll never know when we're going to time travel until we've done it?"

"I think knowing you can time travel has something to do with it." She said, crossing her arms. "We were thinking about time travel, we have time-turners..." She groaned. "I don't know, Jim. The only thing I'm sure about is that you can't change what's already happened - like, you can't go back in time and kill Voldemort when he's a baby, because if there's no Voldemort then you would have no reason to time travel to kill him. But if you'd gone back in time to try then you'd only do whatever's already happened - you could be the reason Voldemort became Voldemort in the first place."

Jim caught the ball as it bounced back to him. "I think I've got it." He nodded. "Basically there's no such thing as free will."

"Yup. You can think about changing things all you want, but you won't - like how you can't fly just by saying you're going to be able to fly."

Jim nodded again. "Got it. I'm going to go surprise us!"

Sam handed him the clipboard and pen. "Take these up there, I'm going to get some coffee." Maybe caffeine would help her thought process. 

"Can you grab me something to eat?"

"Sure." 

Jim threw the ball at Umbridge's door one last time before he set off. Sam watched him go with a sigh. "Bloody time travel." She groused, heading for the kitchens. 

Three cups of coffee did nothing for her brain, and she grabbed Jim a sandwich so she could go to speak to herself. She always worked best when she talked to herself. 

What had Doctor Who said? Time is just a construct of human perception, an illusion... no, that was Don't Hug Me I'm Scared... People assume that time is cause to effect... yes... but from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint... okay, so it didn't move in a straight line... Time is important and I am a clock... that was still Don't Hug Me I'm Scared...

She was honestly having trouble figuring out if it was David Tennant or the talking clock that said time didn't go backwards, only one way. 

"It's eleven to twelve, there's fish in the bath. It's nine thirty, there's fish everywhere." She muttered as she walked down the no-longer-forbidden corridor. Time travel was actually killing off her braincells. 

"- I can't understand any of them." She heard one of the Jims say when she reached the room. 

"Wibbly wobbly timey wimey!" She announced as she walked in. That was it

Her past-self stared at her for a second, then groaned. Sam felt a little guilty at being the cause of her own headache. 

She held up Jim's sandwich and he grinned. "You're the best." He abandoned his game of catch so he could take his food and Sam sat next to her past-self to see what she'd written, taking the clipboard so she could cross out the part about time paradoxes.

"So, in the film Harry was saved by his future-self, which let him go back in time to save his past-self." Sam told the Jims. They could understand that at least. 

Jim took a bite out of his sandwich. "So he was saved by himself even though he hadn't travelled back in time yet?"

"Technically and... untechnically." She allowed. "It's a self-consistent stable time loop with no real start."

Past-her took the clipboard back. "Okay, so if there's no real start how will we know when we're going to time travel?"

Sam still hadn't figured that out. "Can't help you."

"Okay, I'm going." Jim announced, and Sam caught the ball he threw her way. As soon as he disappeared the remaining Jim said, "He's at Umbridge's office."

Sam could see the despair on her past-self's face and took the clipboard from her. She put her head in her hands. "This is insanity." She mumbled into her palms, then looked at Sam for help. "Why did I time travel?"

Ah.

"Uh... I'm telling you to?" It came out as more of a question than a statement. Past-her put her head back in her hands and Sam pat her on the shoulder commiseratingly.

When past-her got off the desk she looked completely done. Sam could sympathize. "Right, I'm going." She decided, pulling out the time-turner.

"It sucks." Sam warned. Past-her didn't look surprised in the least.

"It's wizard transportation. Of course it -"

And then she was gone. 

"I'm banning time travel." Sam said, crossing out her entire last paragraph. "I'm not dealing with us turning up all the time. We're using it to kill Voldemort and that's it."

Jim, chewing thoughtfully on his sandwich, made a noise of acknowledgement. "Agreed. No more recreational time travel. Life or death only."

The door flew open.

"I found another ball!" Future-Jim announced, holding up a green ball in triumph.

Sam threw the clipboard at him. 

Chapter Text

The birds were upon them. 

Everyone was losing their minds. Fifth and seventh years were having daily breakdowns from the stress of revision, skipping meals and staying up all night, all of them crammed into the library with piles of books and notes in front of them. 

There was a black market that had started up, students selling potions that would help with concentration and staying awake. It was oddly reminiscent of Sam's high school days where there would always be that one lad who made a fortune flogging 35p energy drinks and sweets from his homemade tuck shop. 

Sam and Jim got in on this immediately and had the twins send them all the cheap energy drinks they could buy. The energy drinks Sam had lived off of weren't around yet, but the twins had sent a good supply.

The pure-bloods had been sceptical at first, but once they'd seen how excited the Muggle-raised students were at the sight of the brightly coloured cans they'd decided to try them.

Seeing the Slytherins chug energy drinks would have been worth it on its own, but the money was good too.

"Fucking hell." Jim muttered as they sat at their table in the common room watching the students write pages and pages of notes and test each other, empty cans littering the tables. "I've never been more happy that I never did my GCSEs. This looks like torture."

"I'm pretty sure it could be classed as torture." Sam said, looking at Nott as he read through three years worth of Transfiguration notes, muttering to himself. "I've seen four people be taken to the Hospital Wing today. They're dying off."

Jim snorted, rocking back on his chair. "This is more fun to watch than anything we've ever done. I think some of them might actually die from the stress. Or a heart attack from all the caffeine."

It definitely looked like some of them would keel over on the first day of exams. No one ate a thing at breakfast, all the fifth and seventh years sitting in silence as they got some last minute revision in. Once it hit half nine the Great Hall was emptied and the tables were replaced with single desks that all faced the front where McGonagall stood. 

Sam sat down at the desk next to Jim and prepared herself for two hours of hell.

It was worse than she anticipated. The first few questions held her attention, but after twenty minutes she was done with the silence. She lasted longer than Jim at least, who'd managed ten whole minutes before he started using the spare rolls of parchment to practice his origami skills. 

When he noticed Sam watching him he held up a piece of parchment and slowly folded it. Sam copied him with one of her own pieces. For an hour and a half Jim taught her how to make parchment-cranes.

By the end of the exam Sam had thirteen cranes on her desk. She left them there as a warning. 

The practical exam went much better. Years of illegally using magic outside of school meant she and Jim were two years ahead in Charms. Sam flew through it. 

Transfiguration was the next exam. Sam lasted five minutes longer this time, answering ten questions before looking over at Jim pleadingly. He stopped when she did and picked up a piece of parchment. They made rabbits this time. 

Their written exams continued like this. Sam had never been more thankful for the random skills Jim liked to pick up from time to time. 

The Divination exam was definitely Sam's favourite. There wasn't a written exam, and the practical consisted of crystal ball reading, tea-leaf reading, and palm-reading. 

Sam managed to freak out the examiner by describing Freddy Krueger in vivid detail in the crystal ball, telling poor Professor Marchbanks she would meet the man in her dreams. She ended the exam by reading the woman's palm and telling her not to sleep next Sunday if she wanted to live. 

Jim had his exam a few hours later and also told the woman Freddy Krueger was after her, going so far as to sing the creepy rhyme while he looked into the crystal ball. 

The History of Magic exam was by far the worst. Jim actually fell asleep, leaving Sam to continue her origami alone.

Until he woke up twenty minutes later, hands clasped over his forehead and eyes screwed shut in pain. After a few seconds he opened his eyes and looked over at Sam from two desks away, pointing to his scar and then the doors.

Sam frowned at the examiners. They couldn't just walk out, that would be far too suspicious.

Instead, she turned back to Jim. He could preach the bible like a preacher, full of ecstasy and fire. She mouthed at him. But he also was the kind of teacher women would desire.

Jim understood immediately.

"Ra ra Rasputin, lover of the Russian Queen! There was a cat that really was gone!" They sang at the top of their lungs, making everyone in the Hall jump and turn to look at them. "Ra ra Rasputin, Russia's greatest love machine! It was a shame how he carried on!"

They were kicked out immediately. 

As soon as the very angry examiner closed the door behind them, Sam asked, "What's Voldemort sending you videos of now?"

"He left me a message." Jim said, rubbing his forehead. "He has Sirius in the Department of Whateveritis."

Sam raised an eyebrow. "How?"

"No idea, but he was telling him to pick up the prophecy for him." 

"Wait, so he's there, he hasn't noticed it's a snow globe, and he wants Sirius to pick it up?" Jim nodded. "That... doesn't make sense. At all."

"I think it's a trap, Sammy!" He looked delighted at this. "You said there's a big fight, this is it!"

Sam grinned. Finally. "Time to put our plan into action!"

They went off to prepare immediately, packing their arsenal into the extendable bag. They might be going overboard, but when would they ever have the opportunity to mess with the Death Eaters and Voldemort again? 

If their plan worked, they wouldn't have to. 

Weapons ready, they went to Lee Jordan and gave him a letter to give to McGonagall in three hours, which was more than enough time if everything went as planned. The letter was short and to the point:

Gone to the Ministry to fight Voldemort, we'll be back in time for dinner. Love from Sam and Jim. 

They gave Lee another letter to send to the twins right away, who would in turn give to Prefect Percy. That one was just as to the point:

Big epic fight at the Ministry, we might break something, tell your boss we're sorry. Love from Sam and Jim. 

If it all worked out like they hoped it would both the Order and the Minister would turn up in time to celebrate their victory.

It was time to kill the Dark Lord.

Chapter Text

When they stepped out of the phone box there was only one person inside the otherwise empty Atrium.

"Did you kill the security guard?" Jim asked, pulling the cloak off of them. Sitting with his feet up behind the security desk, another Jim shrugged. 

"There was no one here when I got here. I think the Death Eaters killed everyone." Future-Jim said, waving the gun in his hand in the direction of the lifts. "I've only been here for like five minutes."

Jim shrugged. "Makes our life easier." He said, draping the cloak over his shoulder. Future-Jim grinned at them. 

"You're going to have loads of fun down there." He said cheerfully. "I'm going to be hiding here, Sammy. Under the cloak." He pointed at the floor behind the desk. "Keep him talking, make him do an evil villain monologue." 

Sam saluted as they passed the security desk. "Good luck, new me." Jim said, waving.

"Have fun, old me!" Future-Jim waved back. 

It was just as still and silent in the Hall of Prophecy as it was upstairs, but their footsteps somehow seemed louder in the giant room. When they got to row ninety seven they found no one there either. 

"Oh no, where is Sirius?" Jim spoke like an eight year old reciting lines in their school play. "I saw him right there." He pointed to a spot on the floor. 

"Something does not feel right." Sam said in the same voice. "Could this be..." They looked at each other. 

"A trap?" They said at the same time. 

Nothing moved. 

Sam frowned as she glanced at the shelves, but no one dramatically revealed themselves. "Do you reckon they're waiting for you to pick it up?" She whispered, nodding at the snow globe. Jim raised an eyebrow.

"You think they didn't even check if it was the right one?" He whispered back. Sam shrugged. 

"Voldemort hasn't actually been here, why would they assume it's not the real one?"

"So no one's noticed?"

"This place is fucking huge, Jim. How would anyone notice one prophecy when there's thousands of the bloody things?"

"These people are hopeless." Jim sighed and grabbed the snow globe. "Look, Sammy." He said as he stepped back into place beside her, shaking the snow globe so the fake snow swirled around. "Christmas."

"Very good, Potter." A drawling voice came from behind them. "Now, turn around, slowly, and give it to me."

Now there were figures emerging from the darkness, very dramatically as they surrounded the two of them on all sides. They were all wearing robes and white masks, except for Mr L'Oréal and a woman with thick dark hair that rivalled Sam's untameable mane, a manic gleam in her dark eyes. 

"To me, Potter." Mr L'Oréal said, hand held out expectantly. Why did the villains always assume they were just going to hand over what they wanted? That was no fun at all. 

"What'll you give me for it?" Jim asked, and the woman let out a scream of deranged laughter.

"You hear him? You hear him? What will we give him?" She said, cackling. Hello crazy. "We'll give you your life, and the life of your little mudblood girlfriend."

Jim shook his head. "Your boss already tried that one when he wanted the immortality stone. I want one of those invisible horse things." Sam sighed. 

"You're actually asking for a pony."

"Hand over the prophecy, or we start using wands." Mr L'Oréal said coolly. Jim stared back, one eyebrow raised. 

"We don't negotiate with terrorists."

"You were literally just negotiating with them."

"I've changed my mind." Jim tossed the snow globe and caught it, making every Death Eater tense in fear. Jim grinned at the reaction. "Wouldn't it be a shame if I just - whoops." He pretend to drop it, catching it with his other hand. Mr L'Oréal took a panicked step forwards. 

"Stop!" He shouted, hand out like he could catch the snow globe from that distance. "Enough, Potter! Do not play games with us!"

"Games?" Jim asked, smirking. "We love games. Don't we, Sammy?"

Sam nodded. "There's a giant chessboard at Hogwarts. Quirrell cheated last time, so if you can play across it we'll give you the prophecy. Sound good, Jim?" 

"Sounds good, Sammy. Go on," Jim made a shooing motion with his hand. "You go play the chess match, we'll wait here."

The Death Eaters didn't move. The woman was getting more irate by the second, Mr L'Oréal staring anxiously at the snow globe Jim was throwing from hand to hand. 

"Enough!" Mr L'Oréal had clearly reached the end of his patience. "Give me the prophecy, Potter!"

"Okay. Catch."

Mr L'Oréal rushed forwards to grab the prophecy when Jim tossed it at him, and Jim reached into his pocket and threw the Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder at his feet. 

They were immediately engulfed in darkness. Sam felt Jim pull her to his side and put the cloak over both of them, then rooted around in the bag for a moment. "Okay, I've got the hand. Let's move."

Jim linked their arms and led Sam through the darkness, his creepy hand that gave light only to him guiding the way. 

When the darkness finally cleared Sam Jim were standing in the next aisle over, watching the Death Eaters through the shelves. "Where did they go?" One of the masked men demanded, whirling around.

"It doesn't matter." Mr L'Oréal said, holding up the snow globe. "We have the -"

Sam had to bite her lip to stop the laughter as she watched him stare at the snow globe, the fake snow settling over the tiny house. His expression went from shock, to horror, to fury. "They switched it!" He shouted, throwing the snow globe on the ground, shattering it. 

"That cost me five quid." Jim complained as he shoved the creepy hand back into the bag. 

"Split up and start searching! Be gentle with them until we have the prophecy!" Mr L'Oréal snarled, looking around wildly. "Bellatrix, Rodolphus, you take the left, Crabbe, Rabastan, go right - Jugson, Dolohov, straight ahead - Macnair and Avery, through there - Rockwood, Nott, over there - Mulciber, come with me!"

They watched the Death Eaters spilt off into pairs. "Who first?" Sam whispered.

"Macnair and Avery." Jim pointed in the direction the two masked men had gone. "They're in the offices."

They hurried after the two, slipping in through the door to find the men checking under the desks. "They might have run straight through the hall." One of them said. Sam was going to call this one Avery. 

"What first?" Sam asked, watching Avery and not-Avery check under the last few desks. 

"Frisbees." Jim whispered back, digging through the bag again. He pulled out two Fanged Frisbees, which looked more like sawblades than actual frisbees. These ones had been a request of theirs from the twins; they locked onto their victim and were charmed with the same spells as the fireworks, unstoppable death frisbees. The twins were definitely going to be making more of these. For science. 

"I've got the one on the right." Jim passed Sam one of the frisbees. When both Death Eaters were crouched they pulled the cloak off, took aim, and threw their frisbees at the targets.

They were back under the cloak in time for the Death Eaters to realize they were being attacked, and for a few seconds they stood there to watch the two men try and evade the frisbees. Not-Avery pointed his wand and tried to vanish his attacker, and thus found himself being attacked by an additional three frisbees.

They left the screaming Death Eaters to fight the frisbees and moved on. 

Jugson and Dolohov entered the brain room a second after Sam and Jim. Sam dragged Jim over to the door leading to the space room and reached out from under the cloak to grab the door handle. She opened it quietly, then slammed it shut. 

"Through there!" One of the men shouted immediately, and the two came running over to the door while Sam and Jim moved so they were behind them.

One of them made the same mistake Sam had and stepped out into empty air, letting out a startled shout as he went careening into space. His friend caught himself on the doorway at the last second and Jim reached out to give him a firm shove. He yelped as he fell into the room to join his friend. 

"Have fun!" Jim told them cheerfully, slamming the door and leaving them in the darkness. Sam pointed her wand at it. 

"Colloportus." She said, and the door sealed itself shut. Jim grabbed her by the hand and they ran for the next room. 

They entered the time room just as a door on the opposite end of the room closed behind someone, and Sam eagerly searched through the bag until she found the portable swamp. Just like they'd done with the one outside Umbridge's office, they opened the top and very carefully leaned it against the door, then headed back the way they'd come. 

They paused at the door so Jim could throw a Decoy Detonator in the direction of the opposite door; the little device immediately started running around near the portable swamp, letting off a good amount of noise for such a small object. They stepped back into the brain room and closed the door. 

A second later there was a shriek from the room as the unlucky Death Eaters - including the crazy woman from the sound of it - were suddenly caught in a large-scale flood.

"Ah, this place again." Jim said when they entered the death chamber. It was devoid of Death Eaters but there were doors lining all of the walls, which meant there were at least two Death Eaters behind a few of them. 

"Should we carry on or do the grand finale?" Sam asked. 

"I wanted to get the shiny haired bloke with the Dungbombs, but we should probably go find Tim."

Sam nodded her agreement and pulled the bag open, having to use both hands to pull out the box of Weasley's Wildfire Whiz-bangs. Carefully, like they were handling a bomb (which it technically was) they descended the stone benches with the box held between them. They placed it right beside the creepy arch and stood behind it.

"Okay," Jim took out the creepy hand while Sam grabbed her own supply of Darkness Powder. "Let's get this done."

They each grabbed a handful of Decoy Detonators from the ammo bag and, on the count of three, started throwing them at the doors.

The little devices immediately started running around, exploding one by one. Three Death Eaters led by Bellatrix burst through the door to the left, all of them covered in slime from the swamp. A second later Mr L'Oréal and two others came in through a door on the opposite wall - not-Avery was one of them, his robes shredded.

"Hey party people!" Jim waved the creepy hand in greeting to Mr L'Oréal. The man's face twisted into a snarl. 

"ENOUGH!" He shouted, voice echoing impressively around the room as a few Decoy Detonators ran around his feet. "Enough of your ridiculous games! Give me the prophecy!"

"Yeah, no." Jim said as the Death Eaters descended the benches, all of their wands trained on the two of them. "If your boss wants it he's going to have to get it himself. You better call him before we escape."

Mr L'Oréal opened his mouth, but Jim drew his leg back and kicked the box of fireworks over before he could speak. 

The explosion was spectacular, the death chamber suddenly bright and colourful and full of noise. They only had a second to see the fireworks before Sam threw the powder and the room went completely black. 

Jim grabbed her hand and started pulling her along, the screaming and explosions following them as they climbed the benches. Sam nearly fell and broke her neck four times by the time they reached the door, Jim's hand gripping her arm the only thing preventing that. The benches were hard to navigate in the light, but in the dark they became lethal. 

When they stepped out of the room Sam grabbed the rest of the powder and threw it in the direction of the arch. 

"That was a lot of powder." She said, wiping her hands on her jeans. "They'll be stuck in there for at least half an hour." 

"Then they have to fight the fireworks to get out." Jim dropped the creepy hand back into the bag. "I could barely see as it was. They'll be colliding and making new fireworks for ages, I'm sad we're missing it. Do you reckon they've tattoo-text Tim yet?"

"They think we've got the prophecy, they can't risk us getting out of here with it." She said as they walked through the time room. "He's probably going to be up there waiting to ambush us."

"Yeah, and I'm already up there waiting to ambush him. God, I love time travel."

Once they were in the safety of the lifts Sam handed Jim the time-turner, then the bag. "Ready?" She asked. Jim nodded.

"Time travel." He looped the chain around his neck. "Luck potion." He pat his right pocket. "Invisibility cloak, gun." He put the bag over his shoulder. "Distraction." He pointed at Sam. 

"Don't let him kill me." Sam watched Jim hold up the time-turner and spin the hourglass. "If you let him kill me I'm going to be pissed."

Jim grinned at her. "I'm sure you'll be -"

And then he was gone. 

Sighing, Sam pushed the button for the Atruim.

She was definitely going to die. 

Chapter Text

Sam's first thought when she saw Voldemort was that Jim had been correct in saying that he was a weird looking bloke.

Standing between the golden gates that separated the lifts from the Atrium was a tall, skeletally thin man wearing a black hooded cloak. With no hair, nose, or lips, he still looked like the bitchy trampoline that had been on the back of Quirrell's head.

He also wasn't wearing shoes. 

A strange bloke indeed.

He honestly looked like he belonged on an advert warning about the dangers of drug use. She could imagine his weird face next to a photo of how he looked when he was a diary on a poster with the caption: Dark Magic, not even once under it.

"Do you work here?" Sam asked immediately. "I'm looking for the front desk, I need to make a complaint about the health and safety in this place."

Sam could talk shit with the best of them. She was fully capable of talking for long periods of time without actually saying anything, and all she had to do was keep Voldemort's attention on her and away from the security desk behind him until Jim was ready or Voldemort killed her. 

Voldemort didn't have eyebrows, but he somehow gave off the impression of raising them ever so slightly.

"So, my Death Eaters have been thwarted by two children." Voldemort said softly. His aura was one of dangerously powerful, sharp red eyes giving nothing away. "Months of preparation, months of effort, and yet I am called to the Ministry anyway. A dozen fully trained, supposedly powerful wizards, foiled by children playing games."

God, he was so calm and proper that it was actually funny. Someone who looked like that shouldn't be able to communicate in anything other than demonic hissing. 

"I'm sorry... who are you again?" Sam asked. "Have we met? You look familiar. You haven't been a trampoline before, have you?"

If Voldemort was irritated at the comment he didn't let it show. "Where is Harry Potter?" He asked calmly, like he had all the time in the world.

"Who?" Sam frowned. "Sorry, I'm just looking for the front desk. People have let off fireworks downstairs and it's a serious fire hazard. I'll help you find this Harold bloke after I've made a complaint."

Red eyes narrowed, the first sign of irritation so far. "Where is Potter?" His voice was silibant now, the ghost of a hiss underneath the words.

That was more like it. 

"Are you okay?" Sam asked, tone deeply concerned. "Do you want me to call someone?"

She could see Voldemort beginning to crack. 

"This is your last chance, Potter!" He snarled, the hissing becoming more pronounced as he looked at the lifts behind Sam, waiting for Jim to appear. "Give me the prophecy or I'll make the girl suffer!"

Wow, using her as a bargaining chip and not knowing her name? For someone so proper he was very rude. 

"Sir, I think you should calm down." Sam took a step forward, holding a hand out. "You look awfully pale. Why don't you sit down and I'll see if I can find Harold -"

"Crucio!"

If Sam hadn't heard the incantation she would have thought she'd been struck by lightning. It felt like being struck by lightning. Multiple times. Then set on fire. 

She found herself lying on the floor, staring up at the high ceiling and gasping for breath as the pain faded from agonizing to slightly less agonizing.

Ow. Was her only coherent thought.

"Whew, that cleared the sinuses." She said breathlessly, throat hurting along with the rest of her body. Had she been screaming? Probably. That level of pain definitely required screaming. Loud screaming. Those cartoons where birds flew around people's heads suddenly made sense. She felt like she had those birds flying around her head as she slowly regained some kind of thought process.

Voldemort was staring at her in such disbelief that Sam started giggling. She made no move to get up. She didn't think she could. Being hit by a truck would have been more pleasant than that curse. 

Better not give him a reason to do it again. 

"You really do look familiar." Sam said once she stopped laughing. "You don't happen to have a brother named Tom, do you?"

Voldemort's eyes widened in surprise before his expression became utterly furious.

Well, that had done it.

The Dark Lord raised his wand, lipless mouth twisted into a snarl as his red eyes flashed with murderous intent. In the face of probable imminent death, Sam felt it was only fair to give Voldemort a warning. 

"Mmm whatcha' say."

BANG!

For a moment Sam was absolutely certain that Voldemort was going to walk it off - for a split second he looked surprised, like his death hadn't quite registered as blood ran down from the bloody hole dead center in his forehead.

His expression was still surprised when he crumpled to the floor.

Sam pushed herself up on her elbows, staring at the Dark Lord lying face down on the Atrium floor, blood slowly spreading out in a gleaming red pool around his head. Everything was quiet.

And then - just like with Quirrell - a dark, rippling, faceless figure rose up from the body. There was a horrific shrieking as the ghost flew straight up towards the ceiling. 

"See you in ten years!" Jim's voice called out as the figure went right through the ceiling.

Sam lay back down with a groan. The pain in her body had eased to something more painful than unbearable and her head had similarly filtered down to a much more manageable level. 

"Good work, Sammy." Jim said when he reached her, holding out a hand. "Very nicely done."

She accepted the hand and let Jim pull her to her feet. "You took your time." She complained.

"The potion told me to do it." 

"You're full of shit." Sam pressed a hand to her head, which had gone from aneurysm levels of of pain to migraine. At least the cartoon birds had gone.

"It did! You were lying down and safe from friendly fire." Jim explained cheerfully. "Did that curse feel as bad as it looked? Because it looked like it sucked."

"Do not recommend." She said, wincing. "It felt like being set on fire while repeatedly getting hit by a bus." She held her hand out towards Jim. "Give it."

Jim pouted, putting a hand over the time-turner. "Sammy." He whined. Sam shook her head.

"Your time travel privileges were revoked when you turned up three times. Life or death only. Give it."

Jim reluctantly handed over the necklace and Sam shoved it into her pocket to be locked away with the other one. She just couldn't handle the headaches brought on by their future-selves showing up at random. 

Looking down at Voldemort's body, Jim grinned widely. "Well, that's that problem sorted. And we're, what, two books ahead of schedule?"

"Something like that." Sam shrugged. "That was easy."

"Very. You'd think someone would have used time travel already. Or luck potion. Or a gun. Just drink luck potion whenever he shows up. Foolproof."

"Wizards are dramatic." She reminded him. "Honestly, they have time travel and don't even use it for wizard-Hitler? What do they use it for?"

"Something stupid like work, I bet." Jim shook his head, then smiled. "Tim doesn't even know what we did, either! We can keep pulling the same stunt until he gives up and stops respawning."

Sam could find no fault with this plan. 

"Sounds good to me. I'm thinking we could -"

Suddenly, the fireplaces along the walls were lighting up with green flames as dozens of people all appeared at once; wizards dressed in scarlet robes, members of the Order, the Minister for Magic, Dumbledore - in seconds the Atrium was full of people, most with their wands raised like they were looking for a fight. 

The room was strangely silent considering the amount of people in it. Everyone was staring at the two of them standing over Voldemort's body, Jim still holding the murder weapon.

Jim pointed at Voldemort's corpse.

"He did it."

Chapter Text

HARRY POTTER DEFEATS THE DARK LORD

You-Know-Who Found Dead Inside Ministry of Magic 

In a brief statement Friday night, Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge confirmed that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was defeated once more, after insisting over the past year that the Dark Lord had not returned last June. 

Details of what happened on Thursday evening are still under investigation, though it is believed that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and a select band of followers gained entry to the Ministry of Magic itself.

"I can confirm that we arrived at the Ministry after receiving a tip-off and arrested several Death Eaters who were trespassing in the Department of Mysteries," said Fudge, looking tired and flustered as he addressed reporters. "And I can also confirm that the wizard who called himself Lord - well, you know who I mean - was dead when we arrived."

The Minister's statement was met with anger from the wizarding community, which as recently as the week prior was receiving Ministry assurances that there was "no truth whatsoever in these persistent rumours that You-Know-Who is among us once more".

"Well, really, how was I supposed to believe he was back with no proof?" said an irritable Fudge. "The only witness to his return was a boy who already had a reputation for being - you know how he is. There was no reason for anyone to believe him."

Harry Potter has been a lone voice of truth -

Sam snorted. "You were 'a lone voice of truth', Jim." She said, looking over the top of the newspaper at Jim. "I think Dobby wrote this one."

Jim, lying across the seat reading his own newspaper, grinned. "This one says we lured Voldemort to the Ministry ourselves to prove he was back." 

"Swap?" Sam held out her newspaper, taking Jim's in return. 

Bullshitting their way through a story had never been so easy. Sam was sure they'd never been more truthful in their lives. With some carefully placed lies, of course.

Their story went that Jim had received a message from Voldemort that he had Sirius hostage at the Ministry and if anyone but them showed up he'd kill him, so they had to go there themselves to save poor Sirius. They sent letters so they'd have backup once they got Sirius to safety and definitely not because they wanted to bask in the glory.

Of course not.

The rest stuck mostly to what actually happened, leaving out the fact that they'd already broke in and stole the prophecy (which they blamed on the Death Eaters) and had used the time-turners they'd also stolen to kill Voldemort.

Jim had a great time telling everyone about his big epic fight with Voldemort and Sam let him have his fun. No one even questioned how or when they'd got their hands on a gun. 

Wizards.

They were heroes. Some of the papers were saying they should get Order of Merlins, whatever the hell those were, and instead of calling him a liar or insane the newspapers were talking about Jim like they'd all asked Dobby to write for them. 

A beacon of hope indeed. 

The rest of term had been spent being hounded by the entire school. At first it hadn't been too bad, but after a few days Jim started describing Voldemort's death in increasingly gruesome ways until people stopped asking and started avoiding him instead. 

Sam was very suspicious in regards to Dumbledore. The Headmaster hadn't said a word to them since they'd told their story to him and the rest of the people who'd arrived at the scene, and Sam knew he was up to something. They hadn't said anything about knowing Voldemort wasn't really dead, and neither had Dumbledore.

Suspicious.

She also didn't care. 

Watching the scenery out of the train window as they headed back to London, Sam asked, "So, what now?"

Jim was silent for a long moment. "I want one of these Horcrux things." He said finally. "They sound dead useful. That way if he ever kills me I'll just come back in ten years too."

"That's it, then?" Sam asked, pushing herself up into a sitting position. "You and Voldemort, fighting it out for all eternity?"

"Sounds awesome, right?" Jim was grinning. "Jim The Unkillable and Tim The Immortal, forever at war! We'll be legends, Sammy!"

Sam thought this over. Two immortal twats, killing each other over and over until the sun exploded and destroyed the earth. One of them would end up trying for world domination, probably Jim. It would be pure, unpredictable chaos and no one could put a stop to it - especially if they made Jim's Horcrux a penny and left it somewhere, or a pebble and tossed it into the sea.

They could get a lot done in the time it took Voldemort to come back, too. Get Jim on his level so it would be an even fight, and Sam definitely wanted to find these Horcruxes and hold them hostage, maybe kill one whenever Voldemort came back until he admitted defeat or they formed an alliance.

They could recruit more people for their cult, the Sherbet Lemons versus the Death Eaters. Maybe they could get a full scale war going. That would be fun...

"Alright, I'm in."

Chapter Text

Gemma Farley knew they would be a problem from day one. 

She'd been so excited at being made a Prefect, had been prepared for the extra authority and responsibilities she'd have, but as soon as the Sorting was over she knew she'd be spending her time trying to keep the other Slytherins from harassing the Boy-Who-Lived and the Muggle-born that had been put in her House.

Or so she'd thought.

It had only taken one week for her to realize she wouldn't be watching out for the two, but trying to control them - which, she quickly found out was an impossible task. 

Gemma needn't have worried about the other Slytherins harassing them, because Potter and Granger were too busy harassing the entire school to care about the opinions of their Housemates. It had only taken one second year calling Granger a mudblood for anyone to refrain from doing so again after she'd responded with an aggressive, "Cash me ousside how bow dah!" That had Potter laughing hysterically.

(Gemma had thought it was a Muggle thing, but when she'd asked the Muggle-born Ravenclaw Prefect he'd been just as confused as she was.)

By the end of their first week the pair had earned six detentions and lost thirty-five points between them. 

If there was one thing Gemma would give anything for it would be to go back in time and stop Adrian's welcome speech for the first years where he'd told them that the Prefects were there to help, and if they had any problems to come to them. 

She'd thought Potter and Granger had missed that part of the speech, with Granger taking one step inside the common room and walking right back out - there was something about sharks that Gemma just couldn't understand - and Potter too distracted by a loose thread on his sleeve to pay attention, but apparently they'd heard it. 

And they did come to the Prefects with their problems.

The real problem was trying to figure out what they were talking about. 

"I can't use Wikipedia as a source."

That was what Potter came to tell Gemma after their first day of classes, before she'd been aware of just how strange the two first years were. 

"I'm sorry?" She said, bewildered. Potter looked unimpressed.

"How am I supposed to do my homework without Wikipedia? The only reason I stayed in school as long as I did was because I had Wikipedia. What am I supposed to do without it?"

"I... don't know what - what was it called?"

"Wikipedia."

"Right. I don't know what that is."

Potter stared at her like she'd just told him she didn't know who Merlin was. Then he turned on his heel and left, muttering, "Don't know what Wikipedia is..."

Gemma shared a look with the others who'd been watching the exchange, but they looked just as lost as she was. 

"I need lined paper."

That was Granger's complaint the next day. Once again, Gemma had no idea how to help with that. 

"You need what?"

"My writing's all slanty." Granger said this like it was cause for great distress. "It's like I'm doing all my work sitting sideways on a hill, I can't deal with this. I need adequate stationery."

Their problems were always to this effect: either impossible to understand or impossible to help. 

"Snape's bullying me because he wants to shag my dead mum. Can I make a complaint?"

"Is there a wizard RSPCA? McGonagall needs to be reported."

"The gifs keep watching me, I don't like it. Can we get rid of them?"

"What's a Weird Sister? Why are there multiple weird sisters? I can't make my CD player work so I have to listen to these siblings and I miss ACDC."

"What do you mean you don't know what the WiFi password is?"

And then there were the other Slytherins.

"Granger put up weird posters in our dorm. They don't move, but there's one of a man with knives for fingers and we can't sleep."

"Potter keeps telling us he's immune to dying. We think he's going to test it."

"Granger keeps talking about something called a chestburster."

"Potter doesn't know the Dark Lord's name. He called him Lord Vacancy this morning. No one wants to tell him."

By Christmas Gemma was seriously considering handing in her Prefect badge and begging Snape to give it to someone else. 

Against all odds, Slytherin House managed to - somewhat - get used to the two's strange behaviour. The most reliable method was simply ignoring them until they went away. It was fairly easy considering nothing could hold their attention for more than a few minutes. 

And then one day Slytherin suddenly found themselves in first place for the House Cup, having suddenly gained one hundred and forty points, and Gemma knew they were responsible.

"What did you do?" She demanded, having completely forgotten about dinner when she'd seen the hourglasses and come to find the two in the common room. She wasn't the only one, either - half the House had followed her to find out what had happened.

Potter, who'd been carving yet more insane ramblings onto the table in the corner the two had claimed as their own, raised an eyebrow at her. "You're going to have to be more specific."

"How did you get a hundred and forty points in an hour?"

"Oh, right, that." Potter said, like he'd already forgotten about it. "What was the breakdown, Sammy?"

"We lost ten points for breaking literally every school rule." Granger said without looking up from the book she was reading. "We got twenty for the chess game, twenty for not drinking the poison, forty for killing Quirrell, fifty for insulting him first, then you got ten because Dumbledore liked your singing."

Gemma stared at them. She could feel the rest of the Slytherins behind her staring at them, too. She didn't even need to turn around.

"You got forty points for killing Professor Quirrell." She said slowly, as if saying it out loud would make it sound less insane. 

It didn't. 

"Yup." Potter said proudly. "Well, I killed him. Sammy was useless."

"You seemed to be doing just fine on your own." Granger said absently as she turned a page.

"He tried to strangle me." Granger shrugged. 

"You burned his face off."

"He started it." Now Granger looked up to give Potter an incredulous look. "What?"

"You burned his face off."

"He deserved it." Potter went back to carving into the table. "He gave me headaches."

Granger looked at Gemma. "In our defence he probably would have killed us if we didn't have the immortality stone as a hostage. My reflection gave it to me to put on my mantlepiece."

No one had bothered trying to get the truth out of them, just accepted they'd never know and moved on. 

And then the Headmaster made announcement that he'd been guarding something at the school and Quirrell had been 'caught in the defences'.

The Slytherins unanimously decided to never mention it again. 

Gemma went home for the summer and prayed to every god she knew the name of that Potter and Granger wouldn't return to school next term.

They did. 

And somehow, they got worse.

Potter hearing voices wasn't as alarming as it should have been.

When the Chamber of Secrets was opened no one had connected the two, because it was Harry Potter, best friends with a Muggle-born, of course he wasn't the Heir of Slytherin. Yes, the two had been caught at the scene of one of the attacks, but they were always around when strange things were happening.

And then they found out that Potter could speak Parseltongue.

Needless to say, there was a panic. 

It all came to a head when the youngest Weasley was kidnapped and taken into the Chamber. Potter and Granger's absence when they were all instructed to go to their common rooms and remain there didn't go unnoticed.

And then they turned up a few hours later, covered head to toe in grime with the rooster they'd stolen under Potter's arm. 

"We found the Chamber of Secrets!" Potter announced cheerfully to the shocked students. "It's not as interesting as it sounds. There's literally nothing in it but a statue and a basilisk."

"A basilisk?" Adrian repeated, voice a few octaves higher than usual, which Gemma would have found amusing if Potter hadn't just announced that they'd gone into the Chamber of Secrets where there was a basilisk.

(Later, Gemma would kick herself for not realizing that the monster that was petrifying people was a giant snake, because what else would Slytherin's monster be?)

"Well, a dead basilisk." Potter pointed at the rooster. "Charles killed it, then we killed Tim -"

"Tom." Granger corrected.

"And saved Jenny -"

"Ginny."

"So we're in first place for the Cup again." Potter concluded. "Dumbledore said Charles will get a Special Award for Services to the School trophy and we're not in trouble for whatever rules we broke." Potter frowned. "Is there a rule saying students can't go into the Chamber of Secrets?"

"Probably." Granger shrugged, already heading for the dorms. "I'm going to shower for a few hours. I don't even want to know what I'm covered in."

Potter looked down at himself like he'd forgotten about his own state. "Good point." He handed the rooster to Malfoy as he passed, who looked startled at the sudden armful of bird he now had. "Look after him, he's a hero."

Gemma went home that summer and spent the entire time pretending Potter and Granger didn't exist and she wasn't a Prefect.

She didn't know how they could get any worse than killing a Professor and finding the Chamber of Secrets (she didn't know who Tim - Tom? - was or how they'd apparently murdered him and she really didn't want to) but somehow she wasn't surprised when they did get worse.

It was her final year, which meant her time was spent preparing for her NEWTs. The upside of this was the younger Prefects had to try and control Potter and Granger while Gemma and Adrian focused on their exams.

She felt no sympathy.

With the threat of Sirius Black on the loose it was already a tense atmosphere, and Potter and Granger didn't help matters. First it had been the other third year Slytherins becoming terrified of 'The Ring Girl' which Gemma made a great effort to ignore, and when Black broke into the castle she hadn't missed how Potter and Granger were plotting. 

Because they were quiet, and that was a bad sign. 

Then, not even a week after Halloween, the two entered the common room looking very pleased with themselves, which was an immediate red flag.

"What have you done?" Gemma asked in spite of her goal of not interacting with them at all this year. Potter grinned at her.

"We solved the case!" He declared. "My dogfather is innocent and the rat will be put to death!"

She looked at Granger, because while the girl wasn't any less insane she could translate.

"We found Sirius on Halloween." Granger explained. "He helped us blow up balloons so we helped him find Pettigrew."

Silence.

"You found Black." Gemma repeated.

"When he attacked the gif."

Gemma hated that she knew Potter was talking about the Fat Lady portrait.

"And he helped you blow up balloons." The two of them nodded. "And you helped him find Pettigrew." They nodded again. "Peter Pettigrew, who Black killed twelve years ago."

"He faked his death." Potter shrugged. "He went on holiday to Egypt and Gary saw him in the newspaper when he was doing a crossword puzzle."

"...Gary?"

"Sirius." Granger said, like this was obvious.

Gemma looked between the two of them. She knew they didn't lie - their stories were insane, the details downright ridiculous, but they didn't lie.

And, lo and behold, the next morning the Daily Prophet announced that Black was innocent and Pettigrew had faked his own death. 

Gemma pretended none of it had happened and tried to focus on her exams. 

Tried.

She knew full well that the only thing keeping the rest of them safe from Potter and Granger was the fact that, since they'd come to Hogwarts, there had always been something to distract them. The forbidden corridor and the Chamber of Secrets had kept them interested, and so had Black.

But now they were bored.

And the rest of them knew it. 

The whole of Hogwarts had been appropriately terrified when they found out the two had joined forces with the Weasley twins, the unholy merging referred to only as The Sherbet Lemon Crew, but they hadn't known exactly how catastrophic those four combined could be.

Gemma didn't know who this 'Woolworths' was, but if she ever got her hands on them she'd kill them.

Bouncy balls.

Cling film.

Superglue.

She now knew what all three of those things were, much to her displeasure.

She'd thought that was bad, but then came the Weasley twins' contribution to the chaos. 

Boxing Telescopes.

Canary Creams.

Ton-Tongue Toffee.

She now knew what all three of those things were, and her life was worse because of it. 

Gemma could honestly say that knowing she didn't have to come back to Hogwarts next year far outweighed passing her exams. 

She'd never have to hear about Potter and Granger again. 

Or so she'd thought.

When she read about the Triwizard Tournament happening at Hogwarts the year after she'd left she hadn't been disappointed that she was missing it, because she knew what would happen even before the papers announced that Potter was the fourth Champion (in the Triwizard Tournament) and when the article about his insanity was printed she still wasn't surprised.

But when the papers started printing that Potter was lying about the Dark Lord returning, Gemma had only felt fear.

Because Potter didn't lie.

Her parents couldn't understand why she'd believe the word of a boy she'd been telling them was insane for years, but she'd promised them he wasn't lying. 

And then a year later she was proved right again. 

Gemma stared down at the Daily Prophet, eyes firmly on the headline so she wasn't tempted to read the actual article because she knew she didn't want to know. 

HARRY POTTER DEFEATS THE DARK LORD 

You-Know-Who Found Dead Inside Ministry of Magic 

She crumpled the paper up into a ball, set it on fire with her wand, and pretended Potter and Granger didn't exist.

Chapter Text

Don't touch the trophy.

Easy. 

Stand in one place and do nothing.

Not easy.

"Children behave, that's what they say when we're together." He sang as he wandered between the tall hedges. "And watch how you play! They don't understand and so we're running just as fast as we can! Holding onto one another's hand!"

He wasn't technically ignoring Sammy. He wasn't looking for the stupid trophy, he was just exploring. If he didn't touch the trophy Sammy wouldn't suspect a thing. 

"Trying to get away into the night, and then you put your arms around me and we tumble to the ground and then you say -"

Someone screamed.

Jim stopped for a second, glancing behind him. That sounded like the French girl. Had he just heard someone die? 

Not his problem.

"I think we're alone now, there doesn't seem to be anyone around! I think we're -"

He turned the corner and stopped. There was a huge cat.

A cat with a woman's head. 

A woman with a cat's body. 

Cat woman.

He hated that film. 

Jim stared at the cat woman. The cat woman stared back. 

"Can you move?" Jim asked. 

"No." Cat woman said. 

How rude. 

"Not unless you can answer my riddle." Cat woman smiled. "Answer correctly, I let you pass. Answer wrongly, I attack. Remain silent, I will let you walk away from me unscathed."

"Riddles!" This was the best. "I'm ace at riddles. Go on, hit me with it."

The riddle was long. Too long. As soon as the words "First think of the person who lives in disguise" left cat woman's mouth he was over it. He sighed and waited for her to finish. 

"Now string them together, and answer me this, which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?"

"Your mum."

Cat woman's lips curled up, showing very sharp teeth. 

Not a fan of early 2000's jokes, then. 

"I didn't mean it!" He shouted as he ran in the opposite direction. "I'm sure your mum's lovely!"

Cat woman's pursuit was ruined when he threw the nighttime powder behind him. He blasted a hole in the hedge, kept running, blasted another hole in the hedge. They regrew behind him, and it only took about a minute for cat woman to lose him. 

"Crazy bitch." He muttered, continuing his stroll. What a stupid riddle. What was wrong with 'what stands on four legs in the morning'? He liked that one. 

This maze was boring. He'd found nothing but a weird pink just that he'd avoided by putting another hole in the hedge and passing into the next row and a weird slug-turtle-fire creature he'd just walked past. 

Then he turned a corner. 

A spider.

Not a normal spider. A fucking giant spider, bigger than a fucking horse and he didn't have a giant shoe to squash it with. 

Nope. 

"Incendio!"

He didn't hang around to see if the spider burned to death, just turned around and ran. He didn't stop running until he came to a dead end, and at the end of the dead end was a glowing cup on a plinth.

Was that the trophy?

Jim walked towards the glowing cup. He wasn't going to touch it. Nope. He promised. 

Maybe he could levitate it out of the maze? That counted as winning. No. Then Sammy would know he'd been exploring. Better just leave. 

He turned around to do just that and found Quidditch guy blocking his path.

"Finally!" Jim said, stepping to the side. "There, you win. You deserve it, really. Take the stupid cup. I promise absolutely nothing bad will happen if you touch it."

"Take the cup."

Jim frowned at him. "You take it."

Quidditch guy stared at him, expressionless. "Take the cup."

What a thrilling conversation.

"Look, Crumbs, I don't want to win. I mean, I'd like to win, but I'm not allowed to touch the cup. Rules are rules."

"Take the cup." Quidditch guy repeated flatly. Was he possessed? Was this maze haunted?

"Victoria, I don't know what your problem is." Oh, wait. "Are you working for Doctor Who? Are you being mind controlled?"

"Take the cup."

"I'm taking that as a yes." Jim crossed his arms. "Listen, Vicki, I'm not going to Tim's party. I don't even have anything to drink, it would be rude to just turn up unannounced."

Quidditch guy just stared at him blankly. Jim sighed. 

"Okay, can you at least come with me? I don't want to get there and there's just people I sort of know. I went to a wedding like that once, it's really awkward."

Nothing. 

Wow. How rude. 

Quidditch guy raised his wand when Jim tried to walk past him. "Take the cup." Jim sighed in defeat. 

"Fine!" He threw his hands up and went back to the cup. "I'm telling Sammy this is your fault. She'll be pissed." Quidditch guy continued to stare. "Fuck it." He grabbed the cup.

He hated it. 

Cup-travel was worse than fire travel. It was like flying backwards in a tornado that was inside a bigger, worse tornado. He was relieved to finally hit the ground even if it did leave him winded.

Laying there for a second, Jim stared up at the sky and waited for the dizziness to pass before he sat up, blinking at the change of scenery.

"Creepy." He announced, looking around the creepy graveyard. He was not in Kansas anymore. 

He stood up so he could find that stupid cup and leave. It was still glowing, on the grass right beside the -

Giant cooking pot?

Jim immediately went over to the cooking pot, the stupid cup forgotten for the moment as he peered over the edge of the pot to see the contents. He was disappointed.

Water. 

Boring. 

Uninterested, he looked at the massive gravestone the cooking pot was in front of. The words carved into it were far more interesting than the cooking pot.

HERE LIES THE BODY OF 

TOM RIDDLE

Tim! Tim's brother? Born in 1905. Tim's dad? Died in 1943.

Tim was old. Tim was a pensioner. Jim had beaten up a pensioner.

He couldn't let anyone know this. Ever. His victory would sound so stupid if everyone knew he'd picked a fight with someone's grandad.

Someone spun him around and slammed him against Tim's dad's grave. Jim raised his eyebrows at the sight of the unfamiliar blond man pinning him. "Who the hell are you?" He asked, confused. 

Blondie didn't answer him. He waved his wand and in an instant Jim was tied to Tim's dad's headstone, Blondie snatching his wand from his fingers before he could react. "Hey, give that back!" Blondie ignored him. Jim looked down at his feet, standing right on the grave. "Now this is just disrespectful. Tim won't be happy about this. Can you tie me to a different one?"

Again, Blondie ignored him. 

So many rude people tonight. 

Jim watched, bewildered, as Blondie walked over to a bundle of robes on the ground and reached inside to pick up the baby he'd left on the floor. 

Was he sacrificing his first born?

This wasn't Tim's doing at all.

Satanists.

The baby looked disgusting. It looked like it had been left in the oven, skin burned and black, hairless and thin. If this was his first born then Jim really couldn't blame him for sacrificing it. He'd probably down it in a cooking pot too.

Just before Blondie dropped the baby in the cooking pot, Jim got a look at its face. 

Hold on. 

Tim?

It looked like trampoline-Tim, no nose and red eyes. Was this Tim's baby? 

Was Tim sacrificing his first born? 

Jim could honestly say he was lost. 

Blondie lit a fire under the cooking pot he'd just dropped Tim's baby into. It boiled fast, spitting out sparks as steam rose up from the water. 

"Bone of the father," Blondie said, raising his wand. "Unknowingly given, you will revive your son."

The ground at Jim's feet split open and dust flew out of the crack and into the cooking pot. The water turned blue. 

Wait.

Was the baby Tim?

...How?

 Jim was seriously wondering if he'd been spiked at some point.

"Flesh of the servant," Blondie was saying, holding his hand above the cooking pot. "Willingly given, you will revive your master."

And he cut his fucking hand off. 

The water in the cooking pot turned red with the addition of the new ingredient.

This was the weirdest episode of Kitchen Nightmares he'd ever seen. He didn't think he'd taken any drugs. Had he done it and forgotten? That had happened once. 

Blondie looked at him now, dropping the dagger he'd used to cut his hand off and picking up another. "Blood... of the enemy..." He was breathing shallow through the pain. Jim was actually impressed he was still going on with this without a hand. "Forcibly taken... You will resurrect your foe."

"Hey," Jim said as Blondie approached him with the knife. "At least tell me you sterilized that - ow!"

Gordon Ramsay would be appalled at the hygiene in this place. 

Jim watched as his blood was added to the cooking pot, and it turned a binding white - so bright he had to close his eyes. What the actual fuck was happening? Was he on acid?

When the white stopped burning through his eyelids Jim cautiously opened one eye, blinking the spots from his vision. At the sight in front of him he opened his other eye so he could stare properly.

The person standing in the cooking pot was the weirdest looking bloke he'd ever seen; he looked like a botched liposuction victim, skin stretched tight over his bones like the weird invisible horses, and he was in serious need of some vitamin D - Jim had seen milk with more colour. 

And holy shit his head was killing him. This was worse than when he'd burned Quirrell's face off. He was having an aneurysm.

Wincing at the pain, Jim stared at the headache inducing man. He looked kind of like trampoline-Tim, so this was either Tim or that Tom bloke Sammy was always going on about. Tim's brother, Jim was sure. 

At least he didn't look like an OAP. That was a relief. No one had to know. 

Once Tim had given Blondie a brand new hand - a very shiny new hand - he grabbed the man's other arm and rolled up his sleeve to look at the red tattoo there. As soon as he pressed a freakishly long finger to the tattoo it turned black. 

Huh. Tim could change the colour of people's tatttoos. 

What a strange and useless superpower.

There were several loud cracks and people started appearing out of thin air, all of them dressed in black hoods and white masks. 

Oh God. This had gone from Satanists to the KKK. Jim needed to get out of here before he got put on a list for associating with these people. 

"Welcome, Death Eaters." Tim said once people stopped appearing. They were standing in a circle, some gaps where more people were clearly missing. 

Stuck in traffic?

Tim started giving a speech, and it was a long one. Worse than the ones Dumbledore gave because Tim talked so fucking slow and he didn't have Sammy here to talk to. 

He had an itch. Once he noticed the itch it was all he could think about. Right at the end of his nose - he tried blowing on it, but that did absolutely nothing, and he had no chance of getting his hands free. The ropes were really tight. His left arm was starting to go numb. 

After a few minutes of trying to itch his nose on his shoulder with no success, he sighed and waited for Tim to finish. 

It took ages. Blondie (Aka Crouch, not the dead one, aka Doctor who, and Sammy was wrong because he looked nothing like Matt Smith) found him, blah blah blah, Polyjuice, blah blah blah, Goblet of Fire, and so on, and so on. Jim didn't know if this was better or worse than the insanity earlier. He was so fucking confused. 

Why had Tim been a baby? How did he not drown in the cooking pot? He was in there for ages. He looked kind of reptile-y, so maybe he could breathe underwater? There were so many questions.

Why was he still here? He didn't really need to be, he'd done his part - now he noticed that his arm was hurting too. This was going from bad to worse.

Jim almost fell over when the ropes binding him to the headstone were suddenly gone and he was free. He looked around, confused, as Blondie shoved his wand back into his hand. 

What now?

Tim was staring at him, also holding his wand. "You have been taught how to duel, Harry Potter?" 

Jim blinked at him. 

"Duel?" He repeated, looking around at the KKK members surrounding them, watching like this was a show. 

What...

What was happening?

Was this what Tim was talking about when he was going on about doing things fair? This wasn't fair. At all. 

Tim stared.

Jim stared back.

"I'm sorry, what the fuck?" He asked, looking around for someone to explain this. "You know I'm a fourth year, right? You're like sixty or something, you know loads of magic -"

Shit. 

Now the KKK knew he'd beaten up a pensioner.

He needed to leave. 

He ran for the nearest headstone, ducking behind it a second before a spell hit it, sending a chunk of stone flying off.

The disrespect was unbelievable.

He wasn't taking part in this. 

"Accio!" He pointed his wand at the stupid cup and grabbed the handle.

He'd never been more thankful to be in a tornado in his life. 

He landed hard on his back again, the air knocked out of his lungs painfully. He took a moment to remember how to breathe before he was suddenly being pulled to his feet. 

"Harry?" Oh, it was Dumbledore. "Harry, where did you go?" 

Oh God, where did he start?

"Satanists!" He said immediately. Dumbledore needed to know about this threat to the Wizarding World. "Satanists and racists! They had a cooking pot and the guy was grave robbing and he took my blood -" he held his arm out to show them the wound "- in his weird recipe and he cut his fucking hand off and Paul Hollywood wasn't around to sort him out! Tim was there but he looked like a baby that was left in the oven too long!"

No one said anything helpful. He saw Sammy and sighed in relief. Sammy would sort this out. 

"Tell them, Sammy!"

Chapter Text

"The cooking pot was right here." Jim shone his torch at the spot in front of a large marble headstone. The 'cooking pot' was gone, but there was a black mark on the grass. 

Sam directed her own torch beam at the headstone. "Tom Riddle." She read aloud, then looked at the dates. "Voldemort's in his sixties?"

"You can never tell anyone." Jim told her seriously. "No one can ever know."

"That you beat up a pensioner?" Jim nodded. "Don't worry, Jim. I'll take this to my grave."

"Thank you." Jim held out one of the shovels he was carrying. "Speaking of."

The first stage of their pre-emptive strike was making sure Voldemort couldn't pull the same stunt as last time to come back. Seeing as 'bone of the father' was a vital ingredient, pulling a Supernatural seemed the most reasonable course of action. 

Digging up a grave was nothing like it was on TV. It took ages, long enough that the sky was beginning to lighten and they no longer needed their torches to see. They ended up having to take it in turns to dig, and by the time Sam's shovel met the coffin her arms were aching and her hands were blistered.

"Fucking finally." She threw the shovel onto the grass next to the uneven hole they'd dug and held a hand out. "Crowbar."

The metal of the crowbar was soothing against her sore hands. Jim crouched down next to the hole Sam was currently standing in. "This whole grave robbing thing is so much hassle. If I wanted to work this hard I'd get a bloody job."

"We're not grave robbing." Sam said as she dug the end of the crowbar into the edge of the coffin. "We're grave desecrating. Big difference."

She pried the lid off with one sharp push, the snap of splintering wood echoing around the empty graveyard. 

The body of Tom Riddle Sr was nothing but bone in the remains of what was probably once a very nice suit. The smell wasn't as bad as Sam thought it would be. 

Nothing could ever be as bad as the troll. 

Jim helped her climb out of the grave, picking up the vial of bright red liquid and moving to stand beside the hole so he could pour it onto the bones. The owner of the Apothecary in Knockturn had assured them that it would burn hot enough to incinerate bone, not even questioning why they needed to incinerate bone in the first place. 

Sam loved Knockturn Alley.

Jim tossed the empty vial aside and Sam handed him the matches. He lit one, looked at the little flame with a grin, and tossed it into the hole. 

It was like a mini explosion, the flames a bright red, no oranges or yellows. The heat was incredible.

"It feels good to burn something. We haven't done it in a while." Jim held his hands out, warming them over the fire. "I knew we should have brought marshmallows."

"I don't think roasting marshmallows over a corpse is good for your health." Sam told him. He shrugged. 

"Can't be any worse than when we roasted them over that TV we burned."

"Fair point."

Once the flames died down they shovelled the dirt back in, which went a lot quicker. By the time they'd finished the sun was starting to come up, the sky a grey wash of a cloudy, miserable dawn. 

"How did we ever survive without extendable bags?" Sam dropped her shovel into the bag. It didn't even get any heavier. "Can you imagine the shoplifting opportunities? We could have gone and nicked a dozen laptops with one of these."

"We still can." Jim said as he packed the dirt down some more. Sam doubted anyone would be coming to check on this place; most of the graves were covered in moss, the names written on them faded and a few of the graves sunken into the ground. Clearly no one came here.

"Everyone should be waking up soon." Sam squinted at the sky. "We can start our investigation."

"I want to go to the pub first." Jim said, wiping his hands on his jeans. Sam took his shovel and put it to join hers in the bag. "I'm starving. I want a bacon butty."

They had to wait a while for anything to open, and when the tiny pub did finally open the only things on the breakfast menu were beans on toast or black pudding.

After an unsatisfying breakfast the two of them set out to interrogate the villagers.

As well as burning Tom Riddle Sr's bones, they were also starting their Horcrux hunt here. Seeing as all Sam could remember was the necklace in the zombie lake, the cup in the bank, and a sword, they were pretty much going into this blind. 

First, they needed to find out what happened to Tom Riddle Sr and his family who, according to the headstone, had all died on the same day. 

Jim was doubtful that the village residents would be any help but Sam, who'd lived in a village only sightly larger than Little Hangleton, knew better. People who lived in places like this knew each other by sight, by name, by child, by dog - anything more interesting than Susan from down the road forgetting to put her bins out would still be talked about today and fifty years from now. 

And, just like Sam had known they would, everyone knew about the Riddle family. In boring villages like these everyone's lives revolved around gossip, and even scandals from well over fifty years ago were still hot topics.

They told everyone they spoke to that they were doing a school project on the Riddle family, and everyone was eager to tell two outsiders all about the only interesting thing that had ever happened here.

The Riddle deaths were still speculated about today. Their maid had ran across the town, screaming that there were three bodies lying in the drawing room of the big house. Riddle and his parents had seemingly dropped dead for no reason, but some of the villagers swore that they'd been scared to death because their bodies had been perfectly healthy - aside from being dead, of course. 

Sam and Jim were very proud of themselves for solving the mystery immediately by coming to the conclusion that the Killing Curse was responsible.

But the story about them being scared to death was a very cool horror story for this boring little village. 

Frank Bryce, the Riddle family's gardener, was arrested for the murders, but even though he'd been released the villagers were convinced he'd done it. The rumour mill had started back up again when Frank disappeared, but the timing of it was enough for the two of them to decide that Voldemort had killed him when working on his Triwizard plot to get his body back and kill Jim.

Pleased with their detective work, they started asking about the Riddles pre-death.

The snobbishly unpopular Riddles had been hated by the rest of the village, who'd loved the scandal that had humiliated them. Young Tom ran off with the local tramp's daughter one day, and within a few months of marriage he returned without his wife. Tom left her, never saw her again, and never bothered with his son. 

Basically, Voldemort had daddy issues.

This explained a lot. 

The other rumours were more what they were looking for. Riddle had claimed he'd been 'bewitched', and that started more rumours that his wife and her family were witches, Satanists, or both. 

The Gaunts, who'd lived in a little shack in the woods just outside the village, had disappeared off the face of the earth. The 'Satanists' rumours were due to the snakes that hung out around the shack and that some people had heard them hissing at each other. 

Definitely Voldemort's family, even if the very confused villagers confirmed that they did not look like trampolines.

In a few hours they'd found Voldemort's mother, father, grandparents, and solved two mysteries. Sherlock Holmes could learn a thing or two from them.

The details differed from person to person, the story taking on a life of its own over the years. A lot of people were convinced that the Riddle House was haunted and the creepy shack on the edge of the village was supposed to be so cursed that not even the kids dared each other to go inside.

"So," Jim said as Denise from number seventeen walked away, their last interview for now. "What now?"

Sam looked towards the mansion overlooking the rest of the village. "Check the houses?" 

"You think Tim his one of his Horcruxes here?" Jim asked sceptically. Sam shrugged.

"It's a very Voldemort thing to do. Leave clues and all that - how else would they have found them in the films?"

They decided to check out the mansion first. Ghosts weren't an issue considering their school was haunted, and Peeves was the only one who could be classed as 'haunting' them when the other ghosts just hung around and gave directions to lost students.

The second they broke in through the back door of the Riddle house they were assaulted by the stagnant air. The years of neglect were betrayed by a thick layer of dust on the floor and the wallpaper tumbling down the walls. It definitely gave off a 'haunted house' vibe.

Jim pulled the Probity Probes out of the bag; they looked like golden car antennas, ones that could detect concealment and hidden magical objects. "I'll start on the top floor." Jim announced.

"I'll take the creepy basement, then." Sam sighed, accepting her own antenna. A house like this definitely had a creepy basement.

It did.

Sam hated it.

She went from room to room, scanning every inch of each one with the detector. By the time she and Jim met on the second floor they were both covered in dust and cobwebs and empty handed.

"Nothing." Jim said irritably, trying to brush the cobwebs out of his hair. Sam wasn't even going to attempt to get anything out of her hair. She might just shave it off when they got back. "To the cursed shack it is. It better not be as disgusting as this place."

The cursed shack was worse. Tucked away at the edge of the village in a cluster of trees, the shack was small, dilapidated, and creepy. The rotted snake corpse nailed to the door really set the scene. 

The interior was far worse; littered with a mass of filth, rusty pots and mouldy food, and Sam had never hated the underage magic rule more than right now because a Bubble-Head Charm would have really come in handy. 

It only took ten minutes of searching before Jim called out, "Got something!"

Sam abandoned her examination of a rusty frying pan so she could join him. He was crouched in the far right corner of the room, the golden device in his hand held out over a section of the floorboards glowing a dark orange at the tip.

"Orange is bad, right?" She asked as she crouched next to him. 

"Maybe."

"Hmm. Better not risk it." She glanced around the disgusting shack and grabbed a large rusty knife lying on the floor. "This'll do."

They pried the floorboards up one by one to reveal a golden box underneath. Jim grabbed one of the discarded forks and after a few frustrating minutes they managed to get the box open without touching it.

"That's his Horcrux?" Jim frowned at the gaudy golden ring lying on a velvet cushion. "That's fuck ugly."

"Very tacky." Sam agreed. The ring was gold and obnoxious with a single black stone in its centre. "I think it's a Horcrux. I can't remember a ring, though. Why else would it be hidden here?"

"Maybe he's going to propose to someone." Jim suggested as he dropped the detector back into the bag and pulled out a metal box instead. "Might as well stab it anyway. Even if it's not one of his soul pieces it needs to be stabbed. We can't let him propose with this, he'd be rejected."

Jim very carefully opened the metal box and held up their weapon. They'd taken a trip into the Chamber of Secrets - with brooms this time - after reading that basilisk venom was one of the things that could destroy Horcruxes. The fang Jim was holding was their prototype, having taken a hilt from one of the daggers they'd stolen from Grimmauld Place and fitting it to the fang. It was clumsily made but still looked pretty cool. 

"Should we say a few words?" Sam asked, and Jim nodded as he held the fang over the ring. 

"In the name of Albus Dumbledore, the First of his Name, Headmaster of Hogwarts and a load of other things, by the word of Jim James Potter of the Sherbet Lemons, The Unkillable and a beacon of hope, I do sentence you to die."

Jim brought the fang straight down through the black stone.

There was a shriek from the ring, like the sound of the breaks on a train, and it split right down the middle.

They stared at the broken piece of jewellery.

"Well, we've officially ruined his wedding." Jim dragged the bag towards him and rummaged through it until he produced a notebook and pen. He clicked the pen a few times before he decided what to write and scribbled something down. 

"Okay," he said, folding the note and placing it inside the box. "Our work here is done. Let's go get a McDonald's, all this physical labour needs to be rewarded."

Sam nodded. "Damn right it does."

Months later, when Albus Dumbledore stepped into the little old shack at the edge of the little old village, he found a broken ring in an ornate gold box under rotting floorboards. Inside the box was a note, two words that served only to confuse him further.

I do.

Chapter Text

"You have quite a lot of Nargles around you."

Sam almost leapt out of her skin at the sudden voice behind her in what had been a completely empty corridor. She whirled around and found a girl there, big pale eyes staring at her with a slightly dreamy look. 

Was she possessed?

"I have a lot of what?" She asked, confused. 

"Nargles. Its quite odd." The girl's voice was as dreamy as her expression.

"What the bloody hell are Nargles?" Sam asked, looking down. "Where are the Nargles? What am I looking for?"

"They're invisible." The girl informed her. "They usually live in mistletoe. They're thieves, you know? They stole my shoes."

Sam looked down and found that the girl was indeed shoeless. That explained how she'd snuck up on her. "Why?"

"They're very mischievous. I think they may be distantly related to Wrackspurts."

"Wrackspurts?"

"They float in through your ears and make your brain go fuzzy."

"Ah." Sam nodded her understanding. "Are there any Wrackspurts on me or am I good?"

"No, the Nargles are keeping them away." The girl said quite seriously. "You really do have a lot of them around you. I could make you a necklace, if you like." She held up the necklace around her own neck that was made of corks. "To keep them away."

Sam h'mmed. "No, I think I'll keep the Nargles if they keep away the Wrackspurts. I'd rather have no shoes than a fuzzy brain."

The girl nodded like this was the correct choice. "You must be up to something very mischievous to attract so many. What are you doing?"

"Looking for Jim. He's probably up to something mischievous, I bet that's why the Nargles are tagging along." Sam frowned. "Is there a trail of Nargles I can follow to find him?"

"I saw quite a few by the third floor."

"The no-longer-forbidden corridor. Makes sense."

"Why was it forbidden?" The girl asked, tilting her head curiously. 

"Dumbledore was hiding an immortality stone there, we had to beat a giant chess game to get to it." She explained. "We didn't get to keep the stone though. After all that effort too."

"That's a shame." The girl said commiseratingly. "I have a collection of stones with magical properties, maybe you could have one of those instead."

Sam grinned. "Brilliant! I wanted to start a magic rock collection." Screw whatever Jim was doing, she wanted magic rocks. 

The girl gave her a bright smile. "I have them in my room." She grabbed Sam's hand and started pulling her back the way she came. "My name's Luna." She said, swinging their hands between them. "But some people call me Loony."

"Some people call me disturbed. I'm not. I'm Sam."

The few Ravenclaws around the common room looked up when they entered, and some of them immediately looked horrified. "Oh no." One of the sixth years sitting at the closest table said. "She found them."

"You knew it was going to happen eventually." Another responded, looking defeated.

Sam ignored the rude Ravenclaws, looking around the room. "I like this common room better than ours." She told Luna. "We have windows to the lake. I don't like it."

"Do you ever see any Aquavirius Maggots?" Luna asked eagerly. "They look like brains."

"I've saw brains in a tank a while ago. I think they were just brains though. Is there a way to tell the difference?"

"Aquavirius Maggots can put thoughts into your head."

"I think they were just brains. Unless they were using their mind control to make me think they were just brains."

"It's possible."

There was a lot of despairing mumbling around the room. Luna didn't seem to notice. "I'll show you the rocks." She said cheerfully, pulling Sam towards the dorms. "I don't have one for immortality, but I do have one that wards off headaches."

"We'll get the rocks and follow the Nargles to find Jim." Sam decided. "He'll want to see the aspirin rock, he gets sneak previews that give him headaches."

As they passed the group of people sitting around the fireplace, Sam heard one of them mutter, "Not the bloody Nargles..."

She was going to find a way to release Wrackspurts in here. That would show them. 

But first, magic rocks. 

Luna had a lot of magic rocks. Sam listened intently as Luna went through each rock and what they did, and it was probably the longest someone not-Jim had ever held her attention. Sam had officially found her new best friend.

"I like this one." Sam picked up the light blue rock. "Do you think it looks like a cat? I think it looks like a cat." Luna peered at the rock.

"It does. Cats are very intelligent animals, I suspect that's why Professor McGonagall's Animagus form is a cat." Luna said as she arranged the rocks in a pattern Sam couldn't make sense of. "I think I'd be a hare. They're associated with moon deities." 

Sam threw the rock up and caught it. "I think I'd end up being something stupid, like a woodlouse."

"I think you'd be a coyote." Luna said airily. "Some people think seeing one is a sign of an unfortunate event in your future."

She liked the sound of that. "I am usually a sign of unfortunate events."

"Coyotes are tricksters." Luna stated confidently. Her gaze looked a lot less dreamy and much more focused on Sam, bright eyes a little intense. "They're shapeshifters that can adapt to any habitat."

Sam stared right back at Luna, who tilted her head like she was examining Sam from a different angle. Sam narrowed her eyes. 

Then Luna smiled, holding out a white rock spotted with green. "This one makes everyone around you have bad luck. It does make you unlucky too, though." She picked up another one. "But this one makes you lucky."

"Ooooh!" Sam took the rocks, examining them. "Would they cancel each other out or would you switch between good luck and bad luck? Like, you could trip over but someone else would trip over you."

"I think the only way to know would be carrying them at the same time."

Sam got to her feet, putting a rock in each pocket. "Come on!" She held out her hands and pulled Luna up. "Let's go walk up and down the stairs and see if anyone dies. For science."

Chapter Text

When Granger was placed in Slytherin Pansy was quite sure that the Sorting Hat had outlived its time because clearly it no longer knew how to Sort students properly. 

A Muggle-born in Slytherin.

It was at best a joke and at worst an insult to their House. Salazar Slytherin himself had said: We'll teach just those whose ancestry's purest. Yes, there were some half-bloods, but never a Muggle-born.

And Granger was by far the strangest Muggle-born to ever exist. 

For one, she seemed to be under the impression that sleep was optional. Not that Pansy objected to not having to deal with her in the dormitory, but not sleeping for three days and still having that much energy was not normal. 

Even when she did sleep she still wouldn't shut up, constantly muttering the strangest things Pansy had ever heard when she was unconscious.

She didn't know what a Nickelback was and she was sure she didn't want to. 

It wasn't uncommon to wake up in the night and find Granger wide awake in her bed. More than once Pansy had got up to go to the toilet or get a glass of water and found the Muggle-born fiddling with a small square made up of smaller different coloured squares, or little beads she threaded through a piece of string to make obnoxiously coloured bracelets with little letters spelling out profanity.

And then came the marshmallow incident that was the precursor to a truly bizarre experience.

"Did one of you eat my marshmallows?"

That was the first thing Granger asked one morning, three weeks into term and having slept a grand total of ten nights in the dorm. She was staring at her nightstand like she was waiting for something to appear. "Did I eat my marshmallows? I swear I had half a bag of marshmallows."

"Trust me, none of us would have eaten them." Daphne said dryly. "The house-elves probably thought they were rubbish and threw them away."

Granger looked at her quizzically. "The what now?"

Pansy frowned at her for a moment before she understood what it was that was confusing Granger. "Ah, of course you don't know." She said, and Granger's curious stare turned on her. "They lay the fires, do the laundry, light the lamps, and they clean the dormitories. I expect they're to blame for your missing marshmallows."

Granger continued to stare at her. "Are you actually telling me little elves come in and do the cleaning?"

"Who else would do it?" Pansy asked. Granger still looked baffled at this concept. 

"Little elves." She repeated. "Little elves that come in and clean up." She looked around the room like she was expecting to see one. "Are they invisible?"

"No, but they do make sure not to be seen." Daphne explained. Granger was still looking around the room. 

"The little elves who clean the rooms stole my marshmallows." She said slowly, still not quite comprehending this. "Okay. No, actually, not okay. I need counsel."

And with that she walked out of the dormitory.

Pansy should have known that wouldn't be the end of it. 

It was only three days later that she and the other girls went to the dorm to go to bed and found Granger sitting cross-legged on her bed eating those bloody marshmallows. That would have been fine on its own. 

Except there were three house-elves also sitting on her bed. Also cross-legged. Also eating marshmallows.

"So that's how Roombas work." Granger was saying. The house-elves looked enthralled.

"But why is you giving them knives?" The elf in the middle asked, reaching for a marshmallow.

"So they fight to the death." Granger explained. "That way only the strongest Roombas survive and you get a good stock of superior Roombas."

"Like the Daleks." The elf on the right said through a mouthful of marshmallows. Granger nodded. 

"Exactly." Granger said, then finally noticed them. "Oh, hey guys." She gave them a cheerful wave. "Do you want some marshmallows?"

"What... are you doing?" Tracey voiced Pansy's own question.

"Having a very serious conversation about cleaning." She said, and all three house-elves nodded their agreement.

"It is very important, Miss." The middle elf told her. "We is learning about the Roombas."

Pansy had never been more confused in her life. "The what?"

Granger grinned - that toothy, slightly manic grin that Pansy had come to fear - and pat the bed next to her. "Sit down and let me tell you the wonders of robots!"

Sharing a look with the others, Pansy knew she was going to regret this. With a sigh she went over and sat down on the bed. 

None of them went to sleep that night. The entire night and into the next morning was spent sitting with Granger and the house-elves, eating Granger's seemingly infinite supply of marshmallows and listening to the Muggle-born ramble on and on. 

Pansy was, much against her will, just as enthralled as the house-elves. An explanation that began with 'Muggle house-elves' by the name of Roombas shifted onto Daleks, creatures made of metal that came from another world that wanted to 'exterminate' anything that wasn't a Dalek.

Granger bounced from topic to topic, a lengthy explanation about time travel moving seamlessly into an hour long rant about the cost of Muggle sweets.

By the time the house-elves disappeared to prepare breakfast Pansy could have written a very long, very detailed essay about how to measure inflation using the price of Freddos.

The four of them were exhausted when they finally got ready for classes (Granger, as usual, wasn't affected by the lack of sleep) but none of them were complaining.

They didn't say a word to anyone, of course. Granger might not have cared about being regarded as completely mad, but they had no desire to be associated with that particular brand of insanity. 

When they went to their dorm two days later and found Granger eating marshmallows with five house-elves they joined them without question, all of them crammed onto Granger's bed to listen to her explain a Hadron Collidor.

Pansy would grudgingly admit - to herself, not anyone else - that it wasn't entirely awful. 

 

In the boy's dorm, things weren't going so well. 

 

Harry Potter was insane.

This was common knowledge. This was fact. The entire school knew that the Boy-Who-Lived was mad - and not in the same way people called the Headmaster mad. Dumbledore was a dotty old man, eccentric and quirky, but Potter was actually mad.

Draco wasn't sure who it was that had said the Killing Curse had addled his brain, but he was inclined to believe it. 

Having spent 10 years out of media attention, Potter's absence served to develop and contour stories about him. A hero above all heroes, the saviour of the Wizarding World. Everyone had been excited about him coming to Hogwarts, Draco included.

Now the only thing Draco wanted was to stay as far away from the 'hero' as possible.

While the rest of the school only had to deal with Potter in small doses, those who shared a dorm with him were exposed to his madness on a far too regular basis.

When Granger - Potter's equally insane and socially inept other half - was around it was bad enough, but dealing with them individually was a completely different experience.

It was rare for Potter to actually sleep in the dorm, and according to Pansy it was also uncommon to find Granger doing something as normal as sleeping. As strange as it was Draco counted it as a blessing, because when Potter was in the dorm the rest of them were denied sleep as well. 

It was Wednesday night and Potter had turned up as the rest of them were getting ready for bed. As soon as the Boy-Who-Lived walked into the room Draco sighed, resigning himself to a sleepless night - because when Potter did decide he actually needed to sleep actually going to sleep was a different story.

Sure enough, as soon as Draco closed the hangings on his bed Potter said his name. 

Draco ignored him. 

Well, he tried.

When Draco didn't respond Potter resorted to saying his name in different voices until he had enough. 

"What?" He asked, not opening his hangings.

"What's a Class A Non-Tradable Substance?"

The question was so unexpected that Draco sat up and opened the hangings so he could stare at Potter. He wasn't the only one, either; the others, who had similarly closed themselves in to avoid Potter, were also staring at him. 

"Why?" Draco asked slowly, warily. Potter tried to make his expression one of innocence. 

It didn't work.

"Just curious." He said, which was an instant red flag. 

Draco continued to stare at him. "A Non-Tradable Material is something the Ministry doesn't allow anyone to trade in." He answered, just as slowly, just as warily.

"Such as?"

"Dragon eggs." Theo answered, wary but also curious. "Acromantula eggs, Chimera eggs."

Potter raised an eyebrow. "Eggs? Eggs are Class A?" Theo nodded. "Interesting."

"Why?" Draco asked again. He didn't know why he was asking, he was sure he didn't want to know. 

He knew he'd made a mistake when Potter gave a bright smile. 

"Because Sammy bought me a present!" He reached under his pillow and pulled out a book, turning it around to show them the cover. The Anarchist Cookbook.

"What is it?" Blaise asked cautiously.

"A prank book!" Potter's grin had taken on that not-quite-sane edge that made a dozen more red flags appear. "Explosives, booby traps, tear gas, drugs - it's got everything." He opened the book, skimming through it until he found the page he wanted. "There's a lot of stuff in here I reckon I can substitute with magical things - like here." He tapped the page. "I could use Venomous Tentacula Seeds instead, and they're only a Class C. If eggs are Class A then I should be good; eggs are heroin and seeds are steroids, and I'll only be possessing them, not supplying. That's just a fine, right?"

Draco wasn't the only one staring at him in disbelief. Potter looked up from his book, noted their expressions, and snapped the book closed. "In theory."

Still, they stared.

"Anyway, on a completely unrelated note, where would someone buy Venomous Tentacula Seeds? I'm asking for a friend."

Pansy was wrong, Potter was a far worse roommate than Granger. A Muggle-born couldn't compete with this.

He should have gone to Durmstrang.

Chapter Text

"Torchwood?"

The very unhappy looking goblin - or happy, Sam didn't have much experience with goblin facial expressions - peered at them suspiciously.

"That's right." Jim said, folding the badge he'd just shown and putting it back inside his suit pocket. "My name is Agent Harkness, and this is my partner, Agent Cooper."

Sam put her own badge back in her pocket, disappointed they'd only shown them for a brief moment. She'd worked hard on these fake badges, goddammit.

"Thank you for your co-operation, sir." She said to the Head Goblin, whose name she'd already forgotten to pronounce after the goblin who'd brought them to his office had introduced him. 

She was going to call him Geoff. 

Beady black eyes narrowed at her. "You don't have it yet." Geoff replied gruffly. "I've never heard of Torchwood."

"Not many people have, and that's the way we'd like to keep it." Jim said seriously. "We can't give you any information about our organization, but think of us as Unspeakables that don't report to the Ministry of Magic." Geoff's eyes narrowed further. 

"Who do you report to?"

"Classified." They said at the same time.

"No disrespect meant, sir, but due to the nature of our work we're forbidden from discussing our jobs or disclosing anything about our organization." Jim told the goblin regretfully. "Just know that this meeting isn't one we're conducting under the Ministry of Magic. They have no authority over us."

The goblin actually looked less suspicious now. No love lost between them and the Ministry then. 

"What are you here for?" He asked, and Sam cleared her throat to signal to Jim that she had this one. 

"We're looking into dangerous magical artefacts connected to the Dark Lord Voldemort." 

Geoff's expression, which had been only blandly irritated at having to talk to them, was suddenly much more closed off. "Looking into?" He asked cautiously. Sam nodded. 

"These artefacts are currently being used by a Dark Lord - no, he's not dead." Sam said when Geoff opened his mouth. "We can't give you details, but he's not dead and we suspect these artefacts have something to do with that. The Ministry don't know he's alive, that's why we're here before they find out."

"They would consider you protecting this artefact as you supporting him." Jim told Geoff, who was looking more and more uneasy. "You were protecting it unknowingly, but now that we've brought it to your attention failure to hand it over will mean you're actively supporting him, and we'll have to inform the Ministry and let them take over from here."

"But," Sam held up a hand when Geoff opened his mouth to speak again, "if you hand it over now then this will all go away. Nothing will go on record, no one will know we've been here or that you've even spoken to us." Jim nodded. 

"Like you said, you've never heard of us, and that's for good reason."

The goblin watched Jim for a moment. There was no thawing in his expression, but he finally straightened up. "Very well. Where is it?"

"I'm afraid that's for you to find out." Jim said. Geoff blinked at him. 

"You don't know what vault it's in?" He asked without inflection.

"No." Sam said apologetically. "We suspect it's in a vault owned by of one of his followers - we have a list." She produced the list from her pocket and held it out. "The only things we know for sure is that it looks like a cup, it's extremely dark magic, and the vault it's in is guarded by the dragon."

Geoff's eyes widened in a kind of surprised alarm. Ah, that wasn't common knowledge then. Perfect. Now they looked like they knew what they were talking about instead of just bullshitting.

Geoff snatched the list from her and slid off his seat. "Wait here." He commanded, walking out of the room as fast as he could with his little legs. 

As soon as the door closed behind Geoff, Jim grinned at her. 

"This is going way better than I thought." He checked his watch. "Ugh, time for a top up, Sammy."

Sam pulled a face as she withdrew the flask from her suit pocket. Jim, who currently looked like a mid-forties businessman, held out his own flask. "Cheers."

"Iechyd da."

They toasted and each took a swig of Polyjuice. Sam shuddered when she swallowed the thick potion. It tasted like children crying.

"This stuff is disgusting." She complained, putting the flask away. "I look like I should be on my way to pick up my kids from school." Being a short, helmet-haired blonde woman in her thirties wasn't an experience she was keen on repeating.

Jim snorted. "Hope we don't run into her when we get out of Diagon. That witch at the stall said the fingernails were from random Muggles."

"Thank you for that lovely reminder that I just drank fingernail juice, Jim."

"No problem." 

Sam tried not to taste her tongue. "You think we're good?" She looked at the door. "He could have run off to call the Aurors. How many laws do you reckon we're breaking?"

"At least one." Jim shrugged. "He won't call anyone. We're above the law, Sammy - he thinks so, anyway. There's no one he can call to vet us, he has no way of proving we're not who we say we are. If it works on Supernatural it'll work for us."

Sam couldn't fault his logic. 

It took over an hour for Geoff to come back, which meant Sam had to drink more fingernail juice. Geoff strode into the office in a distinctly bad-tempered manner. "Here." He said, expression disgusted as he thrust the cup at Jim. "Whatever it is it's foul magic. Take it and get out."

Jim took the Horcrux. It was a small golden cup with two finely-wrought handles with a badger engraved on the side; nothing spectacular, though it did look nicer than the ring and, apparently, it was non-lethal.

They probably should have told the goblins there was a chance it could be lethal.

Ah well, no one had died. 

"Torchwood thanks you for your co-operation." Jim put the cup inside his jacket, still looking extremely professional. He didn't hold his hand out to shake. Sam doubted Geoff would appreciate it. 

"No one will hear about this." Sam promised. "You won't be seeing us again." She hoped not, anyway. The goblins didn't seem like the type to walk around Muggle London, so the people they were impersonating should be safe. 

It wasn't like they could tell anyone anything even if they were kidnapped and interrogated. 

As the two of them left the office, Sam swore she heard Geoff mutter disdainfully, "Bloody Torchwood."

Chapter Text

Jim looked up when Sam opened the door to the classroom on the no-longer-forbidden corridor, a mistake that cost him when the little silver snuffbox he was holding bit his thumb. 

"Son of a bitch!" He hissed, dropping the snuffbox onto the desk. "Bloody biting little bastard. It's bit me four times." He glared at it before looking up and asking, "Who's this?"

"I'm Luna." Luna said brightly from behind Sam. "Some people call me Loony."

"Some people call me Harry Potter. I prefer Jim The Unkillable."

"The Unkillable Twat." Sam corrected.

Luna smiled. "Nice to meet you, Jim The Unkillable Twat. You've attracted quite a lot of Nargles with whatever you're doing." Jim frowned. 

"I've attracted the what now?" 

"They're invisible." Sam informed him. "Apparently they like mischief. We need to watch out for Wrackspurts, by the way."

"That sounds like an illness. Is Wrackspurts contagious? Do I have Wrackspurts?"

"They're little creatures that float in through your ears and make your brain go fuzzy. They're also invisible." Luna said airily. "But don't worry, the Nargles are keeping them away - though they might steal from you. They stole my shoes."

Jim looked down at Luna's feet. "Do they specifically steal shoes?"

"Oh, no, they'll steal anything."

"Understood. Today's been a productive day. I've learned so much."

"Are we doing the snuffboxes?" Sam asked.

"Yup. I think I've got the charm down." He very carefully picked up the silver snuffbox and put it down on the floor. "Watch."

Jim crouched down next to the snuffbox and, just as carefully, tapped it with his wand.

He leapt back with a yelp when the snuffbox immediately turned on him, the little silver teeth clicking together as it bit at his shoes. 

"Oh shit! It works!" Jim scrambled up onto the desk. "It works really well!"

The snuffbox attacked the bottom of the desk for a few seconds, then turned around and headed straight for Sam and Luna, the lid snapping menacingly.

Sam immediately grabbed Luna around the middle and pulled her up off the floor, her bare feet dangling dangerously close to the snuffbox that was attacking Sam's shoes. 

"Jim! Get - ow!" She kicked at the snuffbox and it latched onto the toe of her shoe. "Jesus fucking Christ, Jim! What did you do?"

"I don't know!" He said, still couched on the desk in panic. 

"Undo it!"

"I don't know how to do that either!"

Sam practically threw Luna onto the desk in her haste to deposit her on it. She kicked off the shoe the snuffbox was attached to and jumped up onto the desk next to Luna, getting to safety just in time when the snuffbox tried to bite her now shoeless foot.

The three of them watched the snuffbox circle the floor between the two desks, snapping angrily. 

"That's lovely." Luna said as the snuffbox went back to attacking the desk Jim was on. "What's his name?"

"I didn't name it." Jim peered over the edge of the desk, watching it take little chunks of wood out of the bottom of the desk. 

"I think he looks like a Richard. That's some impressive charm work." Luna told him. 

"Thank you." Jim reached behind him and grabbed the mug sitting there, pouring out the remainder of the coffee and holding it upside down. "Okay, just like catching a spider."

"You don't catch spiders, you make me catch spiders." Sam reminded him. 

"I've watched you do it loads, I'm ready." He shifted so he was sitting on the edge of the desk, feet either side of the snuffbox. "Count me in, Sammy."

"Three, two, one - go!"

Jim dropped down and slammed the mug over the snuffbox. There was an angry clicking as it tried to escape the ceramic, and Jim sighed in relief.

"Bloody hell, Jim." Sam said as she got down off her own desk now the danger had passed. "That thing's lethal."

"I know!" He grinned at her, keeping his hands pressed down on the mug. "I was thinking about making it bigger, but that might actually kill him."

Sam went over to the corner where their Umbridge stage play was contained and grabbed the box that held numerous pairs of pink shoes, tipping them out and dropping the box next to Jim before grabbing the time-travel clipboard and crouching next to him. 

"Okay, lift it up a tiny bit." She instructed, and Jim slowly eased the side of the mug up so Sam could slip the clipboard underneath. After a few seconds of careful maneuvering they managed to get the snuffbox into the box where it immediately started snapping away. 

"Richard's an angry little bastard." Jim said, beaming down at his creation. "So, how many do you reckon?"

Sam pondered that. "Luna, pick a number between one and twenty."

"Seventeen." 

"Seventeen it is." Sam pulled out her wand and Jim reached to grab his own off the desk. 

Duplicating the snuffboxes was difficult work on account of them not staying still, but soon enough they had seventeen little killer snuffboxes, each christened by Luna.

"Alright!" Jim said once snuffbox number seventeen, also known as Lesley, had joined his kin. "Now we've got to get them in his office."

"We have to do it while he's inside." Sam decided. "We want him trapped in there with them."

Jim frowned in thought for a moment. "Okay, I've got it." He announced, clapping his hands. "We go to his office, you distract him while I go in under the cloak and put the box behind his chair. He'll knock it over when he stands up and boom! Attack of the killer snuffboxes."

"Jim, he'll know something's going on the second he sees one of us, that's..." Sam trailed off, and she saw the exact moment Jim realized what she was thinking. They both looked at Luna, who was smiling fondly down at the snuffboxes.

"Genius." Jim said.

"Foolproof." Sam agreed. She glanced at the girl's bare feet, then at her own discarded shoe. "I have an idea."

And so it was that Professor Flitwick found himself with Sam and Luna in his office half an hour later. The Charms Professor looked down at their bare feet in bemusement. "Nargles?" He repeated.

"Nargles." Sam confirmed.

"They're not harmful, really." Luna told him, that dreamy smile on her face. "Just mischievous. They usually live in mistletoe, but Sam attracts quite a lot of them."

"Cork necklaces keep them away, but we've got a serious conflict of interest." Sam explained. "See, Luna wards them off, but I'm not keen on getting rid of mine when they keep away the Wrackspurts."

Flitwick looked beyond confused. "The what, Miss Granger?"

"They float in your ears and make your brain go fuzzy." Sam told him, and Luna nodded. 

"You can sometimes dispel them by thinking positive thoughts. But it's quite hard when your brain is infested."

"Exactly. So, as you can see, we have a bit of a problem." Sam gestured at their bare feet. "We were wondering if you knew a charm to keep Wrackspurts away. That way I can use a necklace to stop the Nargles from stealing from me without worrying about getting a fuzzy brain."

Flitwick stared at the two of them. They stared back expectantly.

"I'm... afraid I don't know of one." He said after a moment. Sam sighed, disappointed.

"Do you think there could be a potion?" Take the bait, she thought, keeping her expression mildly curious.

"I'd ask Professor Snape." Flitwick said, looking relieved at this out Sam had given him. "I'm sure he'll be able to help with the... Wrackspurts."

Sam gave the man a bright smile. "That's a great idea! Thanks, Professor. Come on, Luna." She took the girl's hand. "Let's go see Snape!"

"Why did we ask Professor Flitwick before Professor Snape?" Luna asked as they headed towards the dungeons. "Did you think he might know a charm to get rid of the Wrackspurts?"

"I was kind of hoping he would, but no, that's not why we spoke to him first." Sam admitted. "Now we're only going to see Snape because Flitwick told us to, there's no ulterior motive whatsoever and when he gets attacked by seventeen snuffboxes it was a complete coincidence that we were there ten minutes earlier."

"Ah, of course." Luna tugged on Sam's hand to urge her to move faster, skipping instead of walking. "I can see why the Hat put you in Slytherin, you're very cunning."

"Cunning sounds better than evil."

"Are you evil?"

"Somewhat." 

"And Jim The Unkillable Twat?"

"Definitely."

They met Jim outside of Snape's office, the box of snuffboxes under one arm and the invisibility cloak over his shoulder. "They've calmed right down." He said, patting the top of the box. "I think they're sleeping."

"Perfect." Sam took the cloak and shook it out before throwing it over him. "Let us know when you're done."

"Will do." Jim's voice promised, and Sam gave the place he'd disappeared a thumbs up before knocking on the door. 

"Enter."

Sam managed to keep her expression as close to innocent as she could manage as she pushed the door open. 

As soon as Snape saw her he looked irritated, and when he saw her companion the irritation quickly gave way to despair. Sam knew exactly what he was thinking, because that had been the same expressions on the Ravenclaws faces when they saw this pairing.

Oh no, she found them. 

"Hello, Professor Snape." Luna greeted with a serene smile. "Professor Flitwick sent us to see you."

"Did he?" Snape asked slowly, and Sam knew the Charms Professor would be in for it later. "Why aren't either of you wearing shoes?"

"That's the problem." Sam said, leaning against the door to keep it open. She felt Jim brush past her. "The Nargles stole them."

Snape didn't react for a long few seconds. Luna started humming, and Sam was ready to put it down to Luna being Luna before she realized the girl was making sure the room wasn't quiet enough for Snape to hear Jim.

She loved Luna. 

"And what do you think I can do about that?" Snape asked finally, unimpressed.

"Well, it's not the Nargles we need your help with." Sam said, keeping her gaze away from behind the man where Jim was working. "We know how to keep away the Nargles, but the Wrackspurts are an issue."

"Nargles keep them away." Luna took over easily. It was like having a smaller, calmer Jim. Sam was keeping her. "But the Nargles are thieves, so keeping them in order to ward off the Wrackspurts is a much of a problem as it is a solution. We asked Professor Flitwick if he might know a charm to keep them away - the Wrackspurts, that is - but he doesn't."

"So he told us to ask you if there's a potion that protects against Wrackspurts." Sam finished, smiling. 

Snape looked ready to quit teaching right there. His expression was one of someone in customer service who'd had someone ask to speak to the manager one too many times and was ready to slam the till over the head of the next person to do so.

"Sammy! Loony!" Jim's voice called from down the corridor before Snape could come up with a response. "The Nargles are trying to steal my pension!"

"Sorry, Professor, we've got to go help Jim with the Nargles." Sam said, pushing Luna towards the door. "We'll be back for that anti-Wrackspurt potion later."

"Goodbye, Professor." Luna gave Snape a wave before the door shut behind them. 

"Mission accomplished!" Jim said when they met him at the end of the corridor, holding both hands up. Sam high fived him and Luna copied her, smiling widely.

"This is fun!" She said, looking delighted. "I didn't think evil could be this fun. I suppose that's why people do it. I did wonder."

Jim stared at her. "I didn't know you wanted to do evil things." He looked mildly horrified. "If I'd known that I would have made the snuffboxes Labrador-sized! No, this won't do. Sammy, what's on the agenda that's suitably evil?"

"I don't think we've got anything lined up."

"Well, we need to think of something." He shook his head, linking arms with both of them. "Loony, what's your opinion on cults?"

"Who do you worship?"

"Me."

Chapter Text

It was an endless loop. 

Potter would speak, Severus would insult, Granger would speak, Severus would snap, Potter and Granger would refuse to shut up, Severus would tell them to get out of his sight. 

Every. Time. 

He'd known having Potter's spawn at Hogwarts would be a test in patience, but The Boy-Who-Lived-To-Make-His-Life-Difficult wasn't James Potter reborn like he'd anticipated. He might have the ridiculous hair and arrogant bearing and the preferred name Jim, but he was not James Potter. James Potter had been irritating and hard to ignore, like a persistent fly. 

Harry Potter was infuriating.

If there was one thing Severus never thought he'd prefer over anything, it was James Potter.

He was sure neither Potter nor Granger had a shred of human decency. Their existence centered around making everyone's lives, his especially, harder. The closest thing he could liken them to would be hummingbirds, flittering about looking for their next flower to drain - hummingbirds that left untold damage in their wake and fed off the misfortune of others instead of nectar.

So, really, nothing like hummingbirds. The only thing the two had in common with the blasted birds was their inability to stay still for any prolonged period of time. 

During staff meetings he wasn't the only one constantly bringing the two up, but he was the one the complaints were directed towards. They were in his House which, unfortunately, made them his problem. 

The reports of their behaviour all followed the same pattern.

  • Potter refusing to shut up. 
  • Granger refusing to use a quill.
  • Potter setting fire to whatever was within reach when told to stop talking. 
  • Granger writing everything backwards when forced to use a quill.
  • Potter and Granger ignoring the Professors to talk to each other.
  • Potter and Granger shouting across the room to each other when they were separated.

The most infuriating part was that the other Professors were getting off lightly.

Severus' own reports to the Headmaster all followed the same pattern.

  • Potter eating his entire stock of bezoars.
  • Granger trying to stick ingredients together to create new creatures.
  • Potter going to the Hospital Wing complaining of a stomach ache and refusing to believe the cause was eating twelve bezoars.
  • Granger complaining that the frog legs wouldn't stick to the slugs because if the platypus can exist then so can the flug.
  • Potter and Granger melting every cauldron they used. 
  • Potter and Granger insisting the cauldrons were faulty because they followed the instructions perfectly.

Their mission in life seemed to be to give him a constant headache.

They were successful.

Sherbet lemon was the only word he'd ever banned from his classroom. He knew he'd made a mistake the second he'd shown any kind of reaction to them when they tried to get a rise out of him. As soon as he'd shown his irritation he'd sealed his own fate. They had the uncanny ability to find the right buttons to push and when they did find it they never stopped.

He wasn't sure which Slytherin had told them that going to their Head of House for advice was an option, but he was fully prepared to expel that student. 

If he'd known who it was when she'd knocked he would have pretended he wasn't there, and he was ashamed to admit that he'd initially been fooled by the serious expression Granger wore when she entered his office, sure that she'd come to him with an actual problem.

"There's something wrong with the Slytherins." Was how she started. Severus merely raised an eyebrow, waiting for the girl to go on. "None of them know who David Bowie is."

Severus had to use a great deal of restraint in order to keep from sighing. "Your Housemates not knowing a Muggle singer is not a valid reason to come to my office and waste my time, Miss Granger. If you..." 

Granger's eyes were wide and Severus stopped talking, eyeing the girl warily. He'd said something he shouldn't have, he knew he had. He quickly ran over what he'd said, trying to find out what had caused the reaction -

He bit back a curse. 

"You know David Bowie." Granger looked elated. "You know David Bowie!" 

Granger turned around and ran out of his office. "Jim!" Severus heard her call. "Jim! I need assistance!"

"Have you fallen and can't get up?" He heard Potter call back before the door fell closed behind the girl. 

Somehow, he managed to resist the urge to slam his head against the desk. He'd just signed himself up for what he knew was going to be an unpleasant experience.

It was a Friday when it happened, which meant he was already in a foul mood after an entire week of class after class of making sure the lazy or incompetent pupils didn't blow themselves and the rest of their peers up because they failed to read a simple instruction. He'd known it was coming. He still couldn't have predicted what it was. 

Because it was the most unexpected experience of his entire life. And that was quite the accomplishment.

When he opened the door to his classroom he wasn't greeted by his sixth year Ravenclaw-Hufflepuff class waiting patiently for the lesson to begin. The students were there, but they weren't alone. 

Two dozen house-elves were gathered in the room, and while that would have been enough to make him falter on its own it was Potter that had effectively stopped him in his tracks. 

The Boy-Who-Lived-To-Make-His-Life-Hell was standing on his desk wearing an eyesore of an outfit; a white ruffled shirt, a Victorian coat, black dress pants - and his hair looked like something akin to the bastard child of its usual mess and a mullet, blond and wild.

Severus had never seen a more bizarre sight, and it had him frozen in the doorway.

"I saw my baby, crying hard as babe could cry! What could I do?" Potter was singing off-key while the rest of the students clapped to a non-existent rhythm. "My baby's love had gone, and left my baby blue! Nobody knew!"

To Severus' growing horror, the bloody house-elves joined in. 

"What kind of magic spell to use!" A dozen ear-piercing voices rang out. 

"Slime and snails!" One very enthusiastic elf near the front sang when Granger, standing next to the desk, pointed at it. She pointed at another, who eagerly took over. 

"Or puppy dog tails!"

"Thunder or lightning!" A third squeaked when it was called upon. 

"Then baby said!" Potter pointed right at Severus, grinning like a loon.

Severus stared. There was a beat of silence. 

"Dance! Magic dance, magic dance! Magic dance, magic dance! Put that baby's spell on me!" Potter and the house-elves sang as one, The Boy-Who-Lived-To-Make-Him-Quit-Teaching almost falling off the desk with his ridiculous dancing while Granger collapsed on the floor laughing. Severus could only stare in sheer horror. 

"Jump! Magic jump, magic jump! Magic jump, magic jump! Put that magic jump on -"

Potter did fall off the desk when he attempted an elaborate jump and twirl, disappearing behind it with a crash. Granger laughed harder, doubled over in tears as the house-elves stared at the desk their leader had disappeared behind with wide eyes. 

Potter leapt up, still grinning. "I saw my baby, trying hard as babe could try! What could I do?"

Severus turned around and left his class to the mercy of Potter and Granger, the sound of the singing house-elves following him out of the dungeons.

It wasn't even the production itself that had stunned him - though it very much did. 

It was the effort.

The sheer amount of planning that had gone into what amounted to a few seconds of annoying him was a mammoth undertaking; the outfit, teaching house-elves to sing, timing it just right so he walked in mid-chaos.

It was an obscene amount of effort. All because of one comment he'd made. 

If those two ever turned their attention to something more than pranks, if they decided to put that much effort and planning into less harmless ideas...

They were doomed.

Chapter Text

Those aren't my curtains.

That was the first thought Sam had upon waking up. It had been a gap in those pale blue curtains that had pulled her out of sleep, the sun at just the right angle to shine in through the gap and burn through her eyelids. 

Blinking into the brightness, Sam tilted her head to look at the room around her. 

It wasn't her room. 

That explained the curtains.

The bedroom was neat and organized, no clothes piled in the corner, no cans of energy drinks overflowing in the bin, no hole in the wall by the door where she'd attempted to do a handstand while she was drunk and her foot had gone straight through it. 

Definitely not her room. 

Frowning, Sam tried to remember what happened that led to her waking up in a stranger's house. It wasn't the first time, but there was no dry mouth and pounding headache from the hangover that usually came with waking up in unfamiliar rooms - or, once, a chip shop - after a night out. 

Strange.

She'd better get up and find Jim, who would most likely be passed out in a different room, probably in the bath as usual. Reaching to pull back the blanket, Sam froze. 

That...

That wasn't her hand.

Leaping out of the bed she ran over to the mirror on the wall, and her brain short-circuited.

What?

She stared.

Someone else stared back.

What?

Sam stepped closer to the mirror until her face was inches from the glass. She scrunched up her nose and so did the girl in the mirror. The face was so young, big brown eyes and freckles, a mane of brown hair that took 'bed head' to another level framing the unfamiliar face. 

She spent a solid minute making different faces in the mirror, even turned around and spun back to it quickly, but the reflection still copied her. 

"Okay." She said aloud, and that just made it worse because that was not her voice. "Okay." It was definitely not okay. She leaned close to her reflection again. "Who the fuck are you?"

The girl in the mirror offered no explanation.

Even talking felt wrong, her front teeth far bigger than she was used to. She ran her tongue over them. 

Was she dreaming? 

On drugs? 

In a coma? 

Abducted by aliens?

All of the above?

What the everloving fuck was going on? 

"Hermione!" Sam jumped about a foot in the air, whirling towards the door in alarm. "Breakfast!"

Oh God. 

Harry Potter superfans.

At least she wasn't called Renesmee. She'd take Potterheads over Twihards any day. 

"Hermione!"

"Alright!" Sam snapped. Maybe whoever the hell that was could provide her with some answers.

Swallowing down the need to scream, Sam headed towards the door. 

The couple sitting at the kitchen table looked normal enough. Not at all like creepy aliens who'd turned her into a child with large teeth. Still, she approached cautiously.

The woman looked up when Sam entered the kitchen. "You were up late last night." She said, smiling. "Were you reading those books all night again?"

The man chuckled. "I know you're excited, but you need to sleep, Hermione. You'll have all the time in the world to learn about magic when you go to Hogwarts, you don't need to know everything before you get there."

Sam's mind screeched to a halt.

No. 

No way. 

No fucking way. 

"When I go to Hogwarts." She repeated slowly. The man raised an eyebrow at her. 

"Are you learning Welsh now?" He asked curiously, not even surprised. "I thought you were trying to learn French - you bought all those books for it."

It took Sam a moment to remember how to use words. "Uh... yeah." She said, unsure. "I, uh... I need to get the accent right before I learn."

The woman shook her head fondly. "Well, you can practice later. Eat your breakfast."

Feeling numb, Sam sat down. She didn't touch her food, still not entirely convinced she was awake. It felt real, but dreams felt real when you were dreaming, right? 

Oh God, what if this turned into a nightmare?

This was seventy different kinds of fucked up. 

"Are you feeling alright, sweetie?" The woman asked, frowning at her. "You look awfully pale."

"Uh, yeah." She almost winced at the sound of her accent in this girl's voice. "I'm just..." her attempt at their accent was dreadful. "I just remembered I forgot to brush my teeth, I'll be back in a sec."

Sam fled the kitchen. 

Back in the safety of the bedroom Sam looked around wildly until she saw the stack of books piled on the desk. She ran over and picked one up, staring at the cover in numb disbelief.

The Standard Book of Spells, Grade One.

She flipped through the pages and there were honest to God spells inside, wand movements and pronunciations. She threw the book aside and picked up another. 

Hogwarts: A History.

No.

No, no, no.

How?

Magic.

A hysterical laugh escaped and she dropped the book onto the desk, going back over to stare at herself in the mirror. 

Hermione fucking Granger.

Sam walked over to the bed, grabbed a pillow, and started screaming into it. 

 

Forty miles away, someone else was having a far worse morning. 

 

"Up! Get up! Now!"

Jim startled awake, lurching upright in alarm -

And promptly slammed his forehead into something.

"Motherfucker!"

There was an angry squawk from somewhere and then the little dark space he'd woken up in was filled with light. "What did you just say?!"

Jim squinted into the brightness, eyes watering in pain. There was a blurry figure standing in the hallway the little door had opened to reveal. 

Why was he in a cupboard?

Had he been kidnapped?

He blinked a few times, but the figure didn't come into focus. Was he blind too?

This was not a good start to his day. 

"Well?" The blur demanded, voice shrill. Jim frowned at it. 

"What the fuck?"

The angry blur grabbed him by the arm and dragged him out of the cupboard, and this time his head connected with the low doorframe - in the exact same spot.

"Son of a bitch!" He hissed. He was going to have a concussion.

The blur shook him a little and he opened his eyes, which had been screwed shut in pain, to look up at the freakishly tall woman. 

"You do not use that foul language in this house!" She admonished, a finger pointing directly between his eyes. "You're going to make breakfast and then you'll go back into your cupboard and stay there for the rest of the day!" She reached into the cupboard and shoved something into his hands. "Hurry up!"

And with that, the freakishly tall woman turned around and left him standing in the hallway with an aching head and a pair of glasses in his hand.

"Crazy bitch." He muttered, looking down at the glasses. He didn't need glasses. 

He looked up and frowned at the blurry hallway for a second before putting the glasses on. The hallway came into focus. 

Apparently he did need glasses. 

He'd been kidnapped by a freakishly tall woman who'd stole his perfect eyesight and wanted him to cook her breakfast. 

It wasn't the weirdest situation he'd somehow found himself in, but it was near the top.

He looked back into the cupboard he'd woken up in. "Sammy?" He whispered, but there was no Sammy in the cupboard. He looked around the hallway again but found no more cupboards where the freakishly tall woman could have put Sammy - 

Then he caught sight of himself in the mirror, and this situation jumped to the top of the list of weird situations he'd somehow found himself in.

The woman wasn't freakishly tall at all.

It was him that was tiny. 

Jim stared at the tiny baby in the mirror. He raised a hand. The tiny baby copied him. 

What. The. Fuck. 

"Hurry up!" The normal sized woman shrieked from the kitchen. Jim stared at his reflection for a long moment, sweeping the black hair away from his forehead. There was a mark in the middle of what was going to be a very impressive bruise there. 

This woman had already disfigured his new face. 

Bitch. 

The normal sized woman was in the kitchen standing in front of the sink. Jim walked over to her, frowning at the dirty rags in the grey water. "Is that breakfast?" He asked, nose wrinkled in disgust. "That can't be healthy."

"It's your new school uniform." The normal sized woman said tightly. "I'm dyeing some of Dudley's old things grey for you. It'll look just like everyone else's."

"What's a Dudley?"

She frowned at him. "Why are you speaking like that?" Jim frowned right back. 

"Like what?"

"That... accent."

"Are you taking the piss out of my accent?"

The frown turned into a glare. "You're in enough trouble as it is." She snapped, pointing towards the oven. "Get breakfast ready before Vernon gets down here."

Jim didn't know what the fuck a 'Vernon' was, but he wasn't keen on getting another head injury.

Cook breakfast, find Sammy, find a phone, call the police and tell them he'd been kidnapped and turned into a tiny baby with terrible eyesight. 

Plan in place, Jim went to cook breakfast. Bacon was within his capabilities so that was what she was getting. 

He was almost done with the only slightly burnt bacon when The Vernon entered the kitchen. 

Jim stared. 

That was an uncommonly large man - not even because Jim was currently a tiny baby either. He looked like he ate tiny babies like Jim.

Oh God. 

Cannibals.

Jim dumped another handful of bacon on the frying pan. Maybe if he fed The Vernon enough bacon he'd be spared. His tiny baby body was scrawny, no meat on him whatsoever. He wasn't worth eating. 

He hoped. 

A few minutes later, when Jim was cooking his third pack of bacon, a boy walked in. 

That was an uncommonly large boy. 

Jim grabbed another frying pan and a fourth pack of bacon. 

He carried the two plates of bacon over to the table and set them in front of The Vernon, who looked over the top of the newspaper he was reading and frowned at the mountain of bacon he'd been given. 

"Why did you cook so much bacon, boy?" The Vernon asked, scowling at him with beady blue eyes. The Small Vernon immediately started shovelling bacon into his mouth. 

"He's been giving me cheek all morning." The normal sized woman told The Vernon. 

Jim was going to be eaten. 

The sound of the letterbox opening saved him from certain death. 

"Get the post." The Vernon snapped at him. Relieved, Jim went to do just that, having to dodge a swipe of a weird walking stick The Small Vernon tried to hit him with as he passed.

He hated these people. The police would be notified.

He grabbed the post off the doormat, looking through it for something to steal as he made his way back to the kitchen. A postcard, a bill, and a weird yellow letter addressed to 'Harry Potter'. 

The cannibals were Harry Potter fans then. 

Wait. 

The cupboard under the stairs. 

Jim looked at the cupboard he'd woken up in. Didn't Harry Potter sleep under the stairs?

He stopped dead. 

Oh shit. 

He turned around and went back to the mirror, pulling the hair away from this forehead to stare at the mark under the bruise.

A lightning bolt. 

"Bullshit!"

There was another squawk from the kitchen and then The Vernon was there, grabbing him by the arm and turning him around. 

"You're pushing your luck this morning, boy!" The Vernon shouted at him, face an alarming shade of purple.

"I'm Harry Potter." Jim said, bewildered. The Vernon blinked at him in confusion.

"What?"

Jim pointed to his forehead. "Harry Potter." He said again. "Like, actually Harry Potter."

The Vernon looked confused as both the normal sized woman and The Small Vernon came out of the kitchen to see what the problem was. 

"What are you babbling on about, boy?" The Vernon demanded, narrowing his eyes. Jim stared up at him. 

"I'm Harry Potter." He repeated, glancing at the mirror. He was still Harry Potter. "Okay." He looked back at The Vernon. "Why am I Harry Potter? Am I on drugs? Do I look like Harry Potter to you as well or is it just me?"

"He hit his head." The normal sized woman said, looking at Jim over The Vernon's shoulder. She looked irritated, as if she wasn't the one who'd slammed his head on the doorframe. "Should we take him to the hospital?"

"I don't need the hospital, I need the FBI." Jim pointed at her. "You won't get away with this, whatever your name is! I want my body back - I had tattoos that cost me a fortune!" He held out his skinny, pale, blank arm. "Look! Nothing! I had a full sleeve! And what have you done with Sammy? Which cupboard is she in?"

The normal sized woman was looking more alarmed than irritated. "Vernon, I think we should take him to the hospital."

The Vernon didn't look happy about this, but he grunted and finally let go of Jim's arm. "Come on, boy." He grumbled, taking the letters from him. "We're going to get that head of yours looked -"

The Vernon stopped, staring down at the letter addressed to Harry Potter.

"See!" Jim pointed at the letter. "Insanity! I don't want to be Harry Potter! I refuse to fight that guy, I'm tiny!"

The Vernon's face cycled through colours, going from red to grey before settling on purple again. Jim had never seen a face change colour like that before. Was his head going to explode? He hoped so. One less cannibal to deal with. 

"Can you write back and tell them I'm not going?" Jim asked. "I don't care about the evil wizard. I literally don't give a fuck. Just tell me where the Sammy cupboard is and I'll be on my way."

The three of them stated at him, speechless. Jim sighed. 

Fuck being Harry Potter.

Chapter Text

"This place is actually depressing." Sam said, looking around the street in distaste. It was so smugly middle class; boring, boxy houses with pristine gardens and shiny prestige cars in the driveways. The only way to tell the houses apart was the numbers on the doors, there wasn't even a blade of grass out of place. 

She wouldn't be surprised if the residents of Privet Drive were part of a cult.

"That's our target." Jim pointed to number 4. "So, I'm thinking we just kill them."

"That's a bit excessive." 

"They put me in a cupboard, Sammy!" He said indignantly. "There were spiders! Tell me you wouldn't send someone to meet Jesus if they put you in a room with a shark."

Well, she couldn't argue with that, but there was still an issue. "You told Dumbledore you'd kill them, I think you'd be suspect number one."

Jim leaned against the car on the driveway of the house three doors down from the Dursley home. No one had come outside to shoo them away yet, but Sam was sure it was coming. "Accidents happen, Sammy. People leave the gas on when they go to bed, or leave a candle lit and the curtains catch fire, or a pack of wild dogs just happen to get inside - sometimes God just hates people."

"God or you?"

"Potato, tomato." Jim shrugged. "Every now and then an entire family just dies under completely normal circumstances. The world's a cruel place."

"You know, that's weirdly merciful, Jim." Sam commented as she leaned against the car next to him. "Just killing someone isn't your usual style. Are you feeling okay?"

Jim frowned at number 4. "That's a good point." He said, looking pensive. "No, you're right, killing is way too boring. I want them emotionally, mentally, and financially destroyed to the point where they wish for death."

"That's better. I was worried for a second."

"The spiders were clouding my judgement, I'm thinking clearly again." He grinned. "Okay, let's make this interesting."

Sam raised an eyebrow in intrigue. "Go on."

"A competition." He said, grinning wider. "Five days to completely ruin their lives, whoever fucks up their day the most gets the point and on Friday the winner gets to pick the big finale."

"Oh, you're on." Sam grinned back at him. It had been a while since they'd competed against each other, she'd missed it. "Prepare to get destroyed, Jim."

They agreed to keep it relatively magic-free since the Dursleys would likely suspect Jim if anything too weird happened. They could use the cloak, Polyjuice, and the knife Sirius had got Jim for Christmas - one that could open any lock and untie and knot, which was rarely needed when they had their wands but very useful in the Muggle world.

Sam doubted this was what Sirius had in mind when he gave Jim the knife, but what he didn't know wouldn't hurt him. 

They didn't want the attacks to come out of nowhere. No, they needed the Dursleys to think they were being targeted for a reason, and not just by one person. So the week before their game they set it all into motion. 

The words DIE PEDO SCUM spraypainted across the front door would probably do far more long term damage than anything else they had in mind; that alone could be life-ruining, definitely have the entire neighbourhood gossiping about them and it would never go away, but they wanted their competition anyway.

They let the Dursleys deal with that first, gave the rumours time to circulate and the family time to stress, and once the graffiti was painted over the game began.

On Monday Sam put superglue in the keyholes of the car while Jim took a bag of instant cement, mixed it thick with a little water, and poured it in the drains. Jim got the point on the basis that the drains would cause more problems to their daily life than the car. 

On Tuesday they both went for the same idea; Sam took a dozen cans of the worst smelling deodorant she could find and taped the spray buttons down so she could throw them in through the windows like grenades. Jim bought as much fish as he could carry and hid it in the attic. Sam gave him the point and made sure to up her game. 

On Wednesday morning there was a police car on the driveway and Vernon Dursley set up cameras in an effort to put a stop to them. They didn't care about the cameras seeing as they were using the cloak anyway, but they still escalated in retaliation for the family trying to ruin their fun.

Jim, who'd been stealing the post, rang up the phone and power companies the Dursleys were with and abused the staff before cancelling all the services. Sam took advantage of this and used Polyjuice to go to their door to tell Jim's fake-aunt that she worked for the power company and they were going to fix everything. When a frazzled-looking Petunia Dursley explained her sudden problems Sam assured her she'd have it all sorted out in a few days so they wouldn't try and get it sorted out elsewhere, leaving them without electricity for a while.

Sam got the point for enhancing Jim's stunt. He sulked, but admitted defeat and planned his next move. 

Now armed with Vernon's businesses email address, Jim entered the man's email for every website he could find, mostly porn, to send him free pictures and ads every day. Sam wasn't ashamed to admit that Thursday was extremely low effort on her part, but she still got the point for sneaking in and smearing lipstick on the collar of one of Vernon's work shirts. She ended up winning on the grounds that Jim only hurt his job while she potentially hurt his marriage.

They were tied on Friday, and Sam was sure she had it. She went in during the day when all three Dursleys were out and rubbed fibreglass insulation on the insides of all of their clothes and bedding, then ran their dryer with yet more insulation inside. Getting stabbed with millions of tiny pieces of fibreglass was good, but then getting more fibreglass when they tried to wash their belongings was perfect.

Unfortunately, Jim had already pulled off his own plan earlier that morning. After slashing the tyres of the Dursley's temporary car he'd gone into his fake-uncle's work early in the morning Polyjuiced as the man and went insane, trashing the office, attacking the staff, doing everything he could to make him look like a complete nutcase and leaving five minutes before the man himself turned up.

Vernon Dursley, already close to a complete mental breakdown after his hellish week, arrived late to work complaining about his tyres being slashed only to be threatened with the police if he didn't leave the building immediately.

Sam had to give it to Jim, and so he got to choose the grand finale. It took him three days to pull it off but it was worth it. 

On a sunny Monday morning the two of them, along with the other residents of Privet Drive, gathered on the street to watch it go down. 

"Do I even want to know where you got that much cocaine?" Sam asked, sitting on the little garden wall of the house opposite the Dursleys. There were four police cars outside and about a dozen police officers coming in and out of the house, the neighbours watching like it was the best show they'd ever seen, gathered in little groups to talk about the disgraceful family living at number 4. Sam had heard at least three different rumours that had nothing to do with the current situation that were worse than what she and Jim had come up with. 

Bitchy neighbours were brutal.

"Probably not." Jim said, smirking as he watched his fake-aunt scream at the police officers trying to herd her to the car. "I used Polyjuice and made sure he got caught on CCTV. They're fucked."

In one week they'd managed to turn a respectable man working as a salesman in a respectable firm, a simple housewife, and a kid spoiled by his loving parents into drug dealing nonces. It might have been their fastest work ever. 

Sam felt absolutely no remorse as she watched Petunia Dursley crying hysterically at the sight of her son - also crying - in handcuffs while her husband shouted his head off at the police officers trying to force him into the car. Jim thought they deserved it for the spiders alone, but Sam felt pretty satisfied that ten years of starving and locking a child in a cupboard had finally come back to bite the Jim's fake aunt and uncle in the arse.

Dudley was collateral damage. 

Sam's human empathy only went so far. 

"Do you want to burn the house down later?" Jim asked casually as the car door was finally slammed in the incoherently screeching Petunia's face. Sam shrugged. 

"We've got nothing else planned."

Chapter Text

"How the actual fuck are we supposed to find anything in here?"

Sam didn't have an answer for that. She stared around at the mountains of junk surrounding them on all sides; chairs, tables, and cabinets haphazardly stacked in an unstable-looking maze. The ceiling was higher than the one in the Great Hall and the room seemed to go on forever. 

"We're going to die in here." Sam said, looking around in a mixture of awe and horror. "We're going to be older than Dumbledore by the time we're finished searching."

Their next step in their Horcrux hunt was the assumption that Voldemort had hidden one of his Horcruxes at Hogwarts. The only thing they had to go on was Sam's unhelpful recollection that the main characters had gone to Hogwarts after the bank and that had started the big battle. 

There was a lot of maybes, but it was all they had.

The house-elves had been the ones to direct them to this room. Since the little creatures knew every inch of the castle it was only natural Sam and Jim asked them where the safest place to hide something would be, and thus they were told about the Come And Go Room - a room that didn't exist until it was needed. 

Sam had felt ridiculous walking back and forth in front of the wall, saying "I want the room to hide things in" each time, but to their surprise a door had appeared and let them into the room they were stood in now. 

"I think this room was on fire." Sam recalled. "I remember fire."

"But you don't remember what we're looking for?"

She shrugged. "I know there's a sword at some point, but I don't know if it's a Horcrux or just to stab Voldemort with. I know Neville cut off his snake's head with it."

"They killed his snake?" Jim raised his eyebrows. "No wonder he was pissed. That's like killing someone's scaly, legless dog."

"I'm honestly not sure what happened when." Sam admitted. "I know the bank was near the end and they went to Hogwarts after. They had to be going after a Horcrux."

Jim frowned. "How did Tim die in the film?"

"He gets Thanosed."

"Ah, of course."

They were left wandering around with the magical antennas again. They'd thought about splitting up but decided they'd probably never see each other again if they did, the room was that big. They used the Four-Point spell before they set off so they'd know which direction the way out was and headed into the maze. 

Walking down the aisles scanning each wall of junk wasn't as boring as Sam had thought. There was so much cool stuff that had been abandoned in the hoarding room that they were frequently distracted by random objects. 

"Even if the Horcrux isn't in here this was so worth it." Jim said as they turned down another aisle. He was wearing a purple silk cloak and had a sword sheathed at his waist - one of the many they'd found that didn't set off the magic detectors, but a sword was a sword. 

Sam also had a sword, along with a very nice pointed hat decorated with dozens of colourful feathers. "Macklemore would love this place." She picked up a wooden mask to examine. "This is like one giant charity shop."

"And we don't even have to pay for things." Jim tried to pick up a massive bloodstained axe, but he could only lift it a few inches off the floor. "We need to keep coming back here."

"Absolutely. We can flog some of this stuff, make a fortune."

They found the Horcrux completely on accident. 

Jim had spotted the old tiara and immediately wanted it. He'd scanned it with the antenna first, just like they'd done with everything they'd picked up along the way, and the tip glowed the same dark orange it had when they'd scanned the ring and the cup. 

"He made a tiara his Horcrux?" Jim used his wand to pick it up and Sam moved closer to examine it. It was an elegant thing, a blue sapphire set in its centre and the words wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure etched on it. 

"Isn't that the Ravenclaw saying?" She asked. Jim held the tiara higher to read the words himself. 

"Huh." He frowned at the Horcrux. "Wait - doesn't the cup have a badger on it?"

They stared at each other for a moment. 

"We need to go to the library." Sam said. Jim nodded and dropped the tiara into the bag on his shoulder. 

"Imagine how much we could sell these things for if they're actually proper Founders things."

Sam put her wand flat on her palm. "Point me." It spun around and pointed North. "Okay, this way."

Jim linked their arms. "We can get that axe on the way! If we both carry it we can get it back to the room."

"Only if we take that sculpture of the head with the missing nose. I want to turn it into Voldemort and put it in my dorm."

"I like the way you think, Sammy."

Chapter Text

It would be wrong to say Potter and Granger were insane.

Psychotic? Quite possibly. To call them 'normal' would be ridiculous, but there was far more to Potter and Granger than simple insanity. 

Blaise knew how to observe without being observed; he could be sitting beside someone who'd have no idea he was there until he spoke up, lurked at the edges of conversations without being asked for his input. And he spent a lot of time observing Potter and Granger.

Fortunately, the two weren't attentive enough to notice. Their complete disregard for anything that wasn't the sole focus of their attention rendered them immune to the thoughts and feelings of others and, consequently, Blaise's observation of them. 

Most of what came out of their mouths was beyond comprehension, but it was the way they spoke that intrigued Blaise. No one could understand some of the things they came out with but the two of them spoke like it was nothing out of the ordinary - they weren't making things up for the sake of confusing people, but speaking in what could be considered a different language, one he was dying to understand.

His interest had been nothing more than idle curiosity until second year when they'd found the Chamber of Secrets, which had been his first indication that there was something more to the strange duo considering the Quirrell incident the year previous. When they then captured Pettigrew and cleared Black's name that had firmly cemented his theory that something was going on. 

Twice was a coincidence. Three times was a pattern. 

They weren't the cause. Rather, they were the effect. 

Blaise hadn't thought to observe them carefully in third year, but at the start of term feast in fourth year he made sure he was sitting close to them.

The announcement of the Triwizard Tournament wasn't much of a surprise to him; the Tournament itself, yes, but the fact that something was happening wasn't surprising in the least when every single year Potter and Granger had been at Hogwarts there had been a disaster of some description.

Twice was a coincidence. Three times was a pattern. Four was incriminating.

Just like he'd anticipated the two didn't look even a little surprised at the announcement of the Tournament. They were speaking too quietly for Blaise to hear over the excited whispering from the rest of the students, but they were very clearly plotting.

When Potter's name came out of the Goblet they still didn't look surprised. Blaise would have thought that was their plan, but Potter's exasperation and Granger's amusement at his misfortune had him thinking otherwise.

He had a whole host of different theories. Time travel seemed the most plausible; it could explain their apparent foreknowledge, as well as their bizarre ability to come out of any situation unharmed, and time travel wasn't impossible...

But it didn't quite fit. 

The longer he watched them the more questions he had. They were enigmas wrapped in mysteries. They lived to create chaos and revel in the fallout, had an alarming number of tendencies that pointed towards them being serial killers, and Blaise wouldn't put it past them to burn the world to the ground in a fit of boredom. 

They were interesting.

But he had no idea what he was supposed to find out next or how to go about finding it. 

It turned out he didn't need to. 

He'd been on his way to Transfiguration when he was suddenly pulled into an empty room three doors down from McGonagall's classroom, almost tripping over his own feet as the person shoved him firmly into the room and closed the door behind them. 

Blaise whirled around, reaching for his wand, then stopped at the sight of his attacker. 

Potter was leaning against the door, arms crossed over his chest. There was no Granger in sight and that was almost as worrying as being kidnapped by Potter in the first place. 

"You," Potter pointed at him, "are watching us."

Blaise froze. If he were feeling brave he might have admitted to it right there and demanded to know what was going on with the two of them, told Potter he was watching them because clearly there was something to watch. 

But he was the least courageous person he knew. 

"What do you mean?" He asked, trying not to fidget so he didn't look suspicious. Potter grinned, cheeky and knowing and borderline manic - which, when paired with the gleaming green eyes, did not give off an air of friendliness.

"You're watching me and Sammy." He stated confidently. "You've been doing it for a while. Sammy hasn't noticed, but I have." Blaise swallowed nervously, and Potter's grin widened. "So, what do you know?"

The longer Potter looked at him, the more uncomfortable Blaise felt. There was something unnerving about those eyes, something not-quite-sane lurking in the corners of the bright green, too cold and - 

Okay, now he was just scaring himself. 

"I..." Blaise hesitated. "Nothing."

The smile disappeared from Potter's face. The change was abrupt and, compared to the grin only a moment ago, alarming. 

"Come on, Blaise." Potter's voice went low, a seriousness to it that Blaise had never heard before. "You're suspicious. You know."

The skin on Blaise's spine went cold. The silence in the room was filled with tension. "Know what?" He asked warily. 

A different smile came to Potter's face, not the carefree grin from before - it was sharp, all teeth and no kindness.

"I'm not Harry Potter."

Blaise felt the blood drain from his face. The not-smile turned dangerous, like the blade of a knife, full of deadly potential.

And in a flash it was gone, replaced by the cheeky grin. 

"Stop watching us." Potter - no, not Potter - said cheerfully. "Sammy would know I did something if you went missing, and then I'd be in trouble. Don't make me have to get rid of you."

Potter, smile still in place, opened the door and left, leaving Blaise standing in the empty room. He was going to be late for class but he couldn't bring himself to move. I'm not Harry Potter was ringing in his ears. 

He'd finally gotten answers, and he wished he hadn't. He'd seen a brief glimpse of what Harry Potter really was. 

And he was not ashamed to say it scared the shit out of him. 

Chapter Text

Saturday, September 7th, 1991. Fifth floor corridor, 9:45pm

The first week of school was always a little stressful. For some it was the homework that quickly piled up, for others it was the extra classes or the exams they'd be taking this year. And for some it was losing their pet toad. 

Again. 

Neville really didn't want to be out this close to curfew, but if Gran found out he'd lost Trevor she would go berserk. Losing him on the train or in the dorm was bad enough, but now he had a whole castle to search because Trevor had managed to escape when he was on his way to the common room and Neville had no idea which floor he'd been on when he'd lost him. 

He'd decided to start with the bathrooms. Toads liked water, so a bathroom would be the most logical place for one to hide, but he wasn't having any luck and walking down the empty corridors was more than a little unnerving. His footsteps seemed too loud and he was jumping at every noise (and his own shadow once or twice) and every time he checked his watch and saw the minute hand creeping closer to curfew his anxiety increased. 

He didn't want to get in trouble for being out of the common room so late, but telling Gran he'd lost Trevor would be far worse. 

Turning a corner, Neville froze. There were two people in the middle of the corridor with their backs to him, but he recognized them immediately and they were probably the last people he wanted to run into. 

"It's definitely a person." Harry Potter was crouched down, looking at something on the floor while Hermione Granger stood beside him. 

"I don't think it is." The girl said. "Not every animal is a person, Jim."

"You're the one who says 'hello, Professor' to every cat we see." Potter retorted.

"Yeah, but she can turn into a cat. I guarantee the one time I don't say hello to a cat it'll be her, and then she'll think I'm rude."

Potter shifted so he was lying on the floor, and Neville's eyes widened. "It's a person. It was stalking us." Potter, now at eye-level with Trevor, said surely. "You'd better start talking."

Trevor said nothing. 

Granger sighed. "Are you actually going to interrogate a toad."

"Yup." Potter said without looking away from Trevor. "If it's just a toad then it's free to leave, but if it's a person they have to be taken care of. No witnesses."

Neville quickly turned around and walked away. 

He could buy another toad. 

 

 

Sunday, November 8th, 1992. First floor corridor, 1:05am.

Colin had been trying to get a picture of the writing on the wall ever since it had appeared. He'd gone there every day and the caretaker chased him away every single time, so the obvious solution was to go at night. 

It was a long way from the Gryffindor tower to the first floor, but he'd managed to get there without seeing a single person. He was almost at the writing when a voice up ahead made him stop.

"I'm sure she went this way."

Colin held his breath, ready to run the other way if the footsteps came towards him, but whoever it was had stopped when he did.

"I'm pretty sure she went the other way." Another voice said. Colin edged closer to the corner and cautiously peered around it. 

There were two figures standing in front of the writing on the wall, and his first reaction was relief that it wasn't a Professor, quickly followed by excitement when he saw that it was Harry Potter. He'd been trying to get a picture of the Boy-Who-Lived since he'd got here; the other students had told him to stay away from Harry, but Colin had ignored them and asked for a photo anyway. 

"Come near me with that camera and I'll shove it down your throat. You'll get a nice picture of your intestines, I'll sign that." Had been the response.

Colin hadn't asked again. 

"I knew we should have gone for the map." Harry said, throwing a silvery fabric over his shoulder. "I still think we should put up our own graffiti, to fight back against the racism. Like, 'you can't judge blood unless you spill it first'." He spread his hands out below the writing on the wall.

"Anti racist, pro murder. A good message for the kids." Harry's friend said as she went over to the bathroom door opposite the writing and checked inside. "We've lost her. Let's go back, we'll get the map from the twins and try again."

As the two headed down the corridor Colin raised his camera. Maybe they wouldn't notice the flash, or he could take the picture and run. He just needed Harry to turn around a little so he could see his face...

Harry did turn around, and he looked right at Colin. 

They stared at each other for a moment, the camera a barrier between their gazes. Colin was frozen, waiting for whatever reaction was coming. 

Harry put a finger to his lips then made a slicing motion across his throat. 

Colin gulped, forgetting to lower the camera in his panic. The hallway blurred as he turned around to walk away -

And saw two great yellow eyes through the camera lens.

 

 

Thursday, November 4th, 1993. Second floor corridor, 7:10pm

There were so many pets at Hogwarts that it was a pretty common occurrence to stumble across one every now and then. Owls were the most popular, but there were plenty of cats around - seeing a toad was rare, and Cedric was sure that it was the same toad people saw around the castle, one belonging to a Gryffindor boy apparently.

He didn't know if Trevor was the name of the toad or the owner.

He was used to finding cats lounging on the window ledges or in patches of sunlight in the corridors, had even tripped over a few. 

But seeing a dog was new. 

The shaggy black dog rounded the corner ahead of him and Cedric stopped dead. 'Massive' did it a disservice; it would just need to put on a wig to pass as a pony. The thing looked like it could eat him and still have room for lunch. 

The dog stopped too, staring right back at him, and Cedric didn't dare move a muscle. Just as he was considering running into the closest room and locking the door behind him a voice called out, "Oi, Gary! Wait for us!"

Cedric didn't feel the slightest bit relieved when Potter and Granger came around the corner, because a huge dog wandering around the castle on its own was less terrifying than it being their dog. 

The dog looked back at the pair. Potter was holding what looked like a dead rat by the tail, and he gave Cedric a grin. "Don't worry, he's not a mass murderer." He waved a hand in the dog's direction, and that wasn't comforting in the least. 

"This rat, on the other hand." Granger pointed at the rat Potter was holding. "Is guilty of murder. We're turning him in like the good citizens we are."

"Hopefully he gets the death penalty!" Potter said cheerfully. The dog barked, like it was agreeing with him. 

Cedric turned around and walked away. 

 

 

Saturday, November 19th, 1994. Library, 11am.

Before Hogwarts, Susan would never have thought going to a library could be described as stressful, but with Madam Pince prowling around the bookshelves and breathing down the necks of anyone touching the books it was on par with being in Snape's classroom in terms of stress-levels.

It was a Hogsmeade weekend, which meant the library would be quieter than usual and Susan would be able to get a table to herself and do her homework in peace. 

That had been the plan, anyway.

As soon as she walked into the library she knew something was going on. She wasn't greeted by the usual pin-drop silence; talking, laughing, whispering, sneezing, or any other behaviour that was 'suspicious' was forbidden, and most students took great care abide by these rules. 

Most.

"But if you did arrange them in alphabetical order would you use the author's name or the book title? I think the book title would be better, I don't know how many students would know who wrote their books. Like, if you asked me who wrote my Potions book I'd have no idea, but I know what the book's called."

Granger was leaning against Madam Pince's desk, talking a mile a minute to the irate looking librarian. Pince opened her mouth, but Granger was already talking again. 

"Saying that, if I was looking for one of Lockhart's books I wouldn't know the titles, I only know they exist because he was always going on about them. I mean, I wouldn't be looking for one of Lockhart's books in the first place, but do you get what I'm saying?"

Movement in the Restricted Section caught Susan's eye, but when she looked there was no one there. She frowned at the place she thought she'd seen the movement while Granger continued to talk without seemingly needing to breathe. 

And then a hand appeared.

Susan stared in shock as the empty air next to one of the shelves parted like a curtain and a hand reached out, grabbed one of the books, and pulled back. Both it and the book disappeared.

She turned around and walked away. 

 

 

Monday, September 11th, 1995. Grand Staircase, 8:45pm

It was safe to say no one was happy about Umbridge being appointed High Inquisitor. But some were taking it worse than others, as Katie found out on her way back to her dorm on Monday night. 

"I don't see why we can't just kill her."

Katie stopped, one foot hovering above the step of the next staircase that would take her up to the fourth floor. The voice was coming from the corridor off of the third floor landing and she was sure she knew who it belonged to. 

"They'd just replace her. It would be a waste of time, Jim." Another voice replied, confirming Katie's suspicion of who it was. No one else would be casually discussing murder, making no effort to make sure they weren't overheard. 

She hesitated, knowing she should just carry on and pretend she'd heard nothing, but she'd already put her foot back on the landing and turned towards the corridor.

"Then we kill her replacement." Potter said as Katie took a step towards the corridor they were walking down. "Eventually they'll just stop sending people. Is it still murder if we warn them first?"

"That's called a threat." Granger's voice sounded further down the corridor now, heading away from the staircase. 

"What makes a threat a threat? Anything could be a threat if you take it as one, but that doesn't mean everything's a threat."

"Wow, hello Jaden Smith's twitter account."

A door slammed shut. Katie remained where she was for a moment, not sure what to do with what she'd just heard. 

She did the only thing she could do. 

She turned around and walked away. 

 

 

Wednesday, October 9th, 1996. Sixth floor corridor, 2:55pm

There were very few excuses for being late to class that the Professors would actually accept. Getting caught on the moving staircases, for instance, was sometimes accepted. 

In Terry's opinion 'I was avoiding Potter and Granger' should be too.

It was the sound of something heavy being dragged across stone that had him checking around the corner before he went down the corridor, and as soon as he saw what it was he swore under his breath. 

Six years at Hogwarts and he'd managed to avoid the pair, and now they were in the corridor he needed to go down to get to his next class. 

They were dragging a massive battle axe across the floor, leaving deep marks in the stone as they went. Terry squinted at the axe, then his eyes widened when he realized that the dark patches on the blade was definitely blood - old blood, but still blood. 

The axe wasn't, somehow, the strangest thing about the scene. Potter was wearing a purple cloak and Granger a ridiculous hat covered in feathers, both of them had swords and Granger had a bust under her arm. It was the weirdest thing Terry had ever seen. He couldn't stop staring even though he knew the only thing he should be doing was getting as far away as possible. 

Granger blew out an exaggerated breath. "Bloody hell, Jim." She complained. "Why did you have to pick the axe?"

"I want to recreate that scene from the beginning of Skyrim." Potter explained, which meant absolutely nothing to Terry but seemed to make sense to Granger.

"Where are we going to get a dragon?" She asked, as if this was a casual conversation and not the most bizarre thing Terry had ever heard. 

"Eh, we'll figure it out." Potter gave the axe a firm tug and lost his footing for a second, tripping sideways into Granger. The bust slipped from under her arm and smashed on the floor, marble scattering across the stone. 

"My Voldemort!" She gasped, looking horrified. She let go of the axe and Potter stumbled at the sudden weight he was now holding alone as she knelt next to the broken statue. "You killed him again, Jim! Was once not enough?"

"It was an accident." Potter defended, pushing the axe upright. "This time, I mean - last time was definitely on purpose."

Terry didn't know what he was listening to, but it felt like something he really shouldn't be hearing even if he understood none of it. 

Granger picked up a broken piece of the face. "Ruined. All ruined." She pouted, then seemed to realize something. "Jim?"

"Sammy?"

"The Feather-light Charm exists."

Potter stared at her for a moment, then looked at the axe. "Oh for fucks sake!" He groaned. Granger sighed.

"My Voldemort died for nothing." She said mournfully.

"He'll come back in ten years." Potter assured her. "All you have to do is cut off your hand and rob a grave. I'll even give you some of my blood, free of charge."

"We already burned his dad." Granger shook her head. "We should have kept a bit of him - just a femur or something, for emergencies."

"Next time we burn a body we'll do that."

"I'm not digging up another grave, it takes ages. My hands hurt just thinking about it."

Terry turned around and walked away.

Chapter Text

The room in the no-longer-forbidden corridor had been many things over the years. A party room, a gang hideout, a secret resistance meeting place, the backstage of a play. There were signs of the room's previous uses all around, from broken furniture to leaflets, horrid pink outfits and writing on the walls. Now, the room had a new use.

Horcrux Hunters HQ.

On the teacher's desk was a diadem, a cup, and a locket. All of these objects were very evil. 

They were also very valuable.

Jim was leaning against the desk, Hogwarts: A History open in his hands. He looked down at the page he was reading, then up at the Horcruxes.

"So, Gryffindor made a badass sword, Slytherin made an evil locket, Ravenclaw made a tiara that makes you smarter, and Hufflepuff made... a cup."

"A special cup." Sam corrected. Jim snapped the book closed. 

"A cup." He wasn't impressed. "That's the stupidest - is that a word? The most stupid artefact I've ever seen." He pushed the cup off the desk. 

Sometimes Sam wondered how exactly a cat had taken human form and why she was stuck looking after it.

Jim put the book down on the desk and picked up the basilisk fang instead, tapping the point against the locket. "And we're sure this is a Horcrux?"

"It matches the description and it sets off the antennas." The depression locket was quite possibly Slytherin's locket; it looked exactly like the book described, it set off the Probes, so it was definitely evil - even if its only power was making people seriously moody.

Thank God Luna had refused to swap her cork necklace for it on the grounds that it had no Nargle-repelling properties.

"I thought it was in the middle of a zombie lake?"

Sam shrugged. "Maybe someone already got it and hid it in Grimmauld Place?"

"Why?"

"Fuck if I know."

Jim made a sceptical noise. "Okay, we'll call it a Horcrux." He decided. "Is there a way to kill them without actually destroying the things?"

"Doubt it. That's probably why he chose them in the first place - people would hold off on destroying actual Founders things."

"Smart" Jim nodded his approval. "I thought he just used whatever he had in his cupboards."

"Now, the big question is: do we give a shit?" 

Jim brought the fang down on the diadem. There was a horrific shriek that made Sam cover her ears, and the diadem split in two. 

"I guess the big answer is no."

Looking very satisfied at the destruction, Jim threw the fang down and picked up the book again. "So, we need the sword."

"Right. No idea where that could be, though. I just know they use it to kill the snake."

Jim frowned down at the book. "How many do you reckon he made?"

"Seven." Sam said immediately. Jim raised an eyebrow at her. 

"Why seven?"

"Because wizards are obsessed with the number seven." She explained. "Seven years at Hogwarts, seven floors in the castle, the prophecy had the seventh month in it, wizards are adults at seventeen, there are seven players on a Quidditch team, the first book came out in ninety seven - that one might not count."

Jim looked impressed. "That's genius-level thinking right there, Sammy."

"It's not. There's a book in the Restricted Section that says seven is the most powerful magical number."

"I feel deceived."

"Sorry."

Jim threw the book on the floor to join the cup, apparently done with it. "What happens before they kill Tim?"

"There's a Snape montage, it's about him loving your fake-mum, his spirit animal is a doe - that's important for some reason." Sam recalled as she lay down on the desk. "Harry lets Voldemort kill him, big flash of light and he goes to talk to Dumbledore in heaven."

"What do they talk about?"

"I don't know. It was a really long scene and I stopped paying attention."

Jim narrowed his eyes at the Horcruxes. "They're pieces of his soul."

"Correct."

"So he's in them."

"Yup."

"And they're evil."

"They are."

"Do you remember another evil thing with a piece of him inside it?"

Sam frowned, then she got it. "The diary?"

"That's what I'm thinking." Jim spun the locket around. "Makes sense, right? We killed it with a fang."

"That's a bit convenient."

"We found the locket on accident."

A very fair point. "Fine, let's say it's a Horcrux. That means we've got five out of seven. That's not bad."

Jim h'mmed in agreement. "We've kind of hit a brick wall, though. What do we do now?"

That was indeed the question. 

"We don't really need to do anything." She pointed out. "He can't use the bones to come back to life, all his friends are in jail, we've got five of his Horcruxes. We can try find the zombie lake but we've got literally nothing to go on. I think our Horcrux investigation is over."

They were quiet for a moment. "Do you think Dumbledore knows about the Horcruxes." Jim wondered. 

"He's got more important things to worry about, like not taking care of his school. We could ask."

"You know what he'd say." Jim said, hopping up on the desk next to her. She shifted to make room, ending up half off the desk so Jim could lie down beside her. "Harry, m'boy, there's no such thing as a Horcrux. Have fifty House points."

"Your Dumbledore impression is terrible."

"You take that back."

There was another moment of silence, this one longer than the last. 

"So."

"Mmm."

"What do we do now?"

"We need to make my Horcrux."

Sam sighed. "We've been over this, Jim. That ritual is disgusting, you're not allowed to do it."

Jim pouted at her. "You said you were in." 

"That was before I read the whole thing. No, Jim. It's ick. That knowledge now lives in my brain rent free and I'm not happy about it."

Jim sighed. "Fine. No Horcrux."

"No Horcrux." Sam thought for a second. "Do you think Angelina still does forgery?"

 

Two days later, Albus Dumbledore would find a mysterious package on his desk in his office. None of the portraits would be able to tell him where the package had come from, the senders having delivered it in the early hours of the morning. In this package were three priceless artefacts that had been carelessly destroyed and a note that looked like it was written, to his bewilderment, by Dolores Umbridge.

You deal with it. 

Chapter Text

Sam liked to think she'd adapted to their new world pretty damn quick considering she'd been dumped into it without warning. She'd gotten used to having a ten minute fight (which she always lost) with her hair every morning, and not being able to just grab her phone and Google something she wanted to find out. She'd slowly become used to being in a body that was too young to drink or smoke or drive, dealt with bloody magic and Dark Lords and the general fuckery that was the plot. She was, as Luna would put it, a coyote. She'd flawlessly adapted to this new habitat.

But there was one thing that she would never get used to, and that was people asking Jim for his autograph.

"You do remember we're supposed to be in school right now, don't you?" Sam asked as Jim's fan group finally left them alone at their little table in the corner of the Leaky Cauldron in peace. "Stop taking photos with people."

"I can't disappoint my fans, Sammy." Jim said, looking very pleased with himself. "It's not like Dumbledore's going to see it on Facebook or anything, no one can prove when that picture was taken. Besides, no one would dob us in; I'm the saviour of the Wizarding World, these people owe me their lives and I'm here to collect."

Sam shook her head. "How you managed to convince the population you're a hero is beyond me." She said, reaching for her glass of Firewhiskey. Jim's 'hero' status did come in handy in certain areas, she'd give him that. 

"I just do the deeds and let other people work out the story."

"You mean the alibi."

Jim put a hand to his chest. "I -"

"Heart's on the other side, Jim."

Jim moved his hand to the left side of his chest. "I am the shining beacon of hope in this dark world, if I don't get my own religion it'll be a travesty."

Sam raised her glass. "Your God complex is showing."

Jim grabbed his own drink and tapped it against hers. "Allow me to be honest and vulnerable for a second, Sammy." He took a swig of his Firewhiskey. "I'm highly intelligent, very good looking - not as good looking as I used to be, but I'm still pretty - and the role of God comes naturally to me. I'm just giving the people what they want."

"You're an absolute nightmare."

Jim grinned. "That too."

Sam rolled her eyes and took a drink. Jim's narcissism had been very toned down since he'd woken up as a child. Jim peened, purred his words and was adamant that he had a 'healthy dose of narcissism for someone of his level of perfection'. She'd been wondering how long it would take for that part of him to show its face again. 

And now he had fans. 

Fans.

The general public reinforcing Jim's own opinions of himself was going to be their own undoing and Sam was maybe enjoying it as much as Jim was. 

"So," Jim drummed his fingers against the table. "Where are we in terms of plot?"

"Nowhere. We've literally destroyed the plot, Jim. I honestly don't know what this book was about, probably the start of that war we've cancelled." Jim made a considering noise. 

"Eh, it can't have been that important, there's still a book after it so they wouldn't have got anything done. We did it all with two books to spare."

"We didn't actually kill Voldemort." She reminded h him. "He's going to come back eventually."

Jim shrugged, completely unconcerned. "Yeah, but it takes him ages. We've killed five of his soul jars and Dumbledore will probably take care of the rest - how fucking stupid do you have to be to leave clues for people to hunt down your Horcruxes?"

"Wizards, Jim. Wizards." Was Sam's explanation. "Basically,  we've got nothing to do."

"Pretty much. At some point we'll die of old age -"

"I doubt we'll live that long."

"- and he'll be someone else's problem. Even if he does come back all powerful before then we can just go on holiday until someone kills him or he takes over Britain. Either way, we don't actually have to do anything, he's only been our problem because we were following the plot. We can retire."

Sam had no objection to this plan. They'd had their fun playing heroes, but at some point it would definitely get boring. They really didn't have to do anything if they didn't want to, and who cared if Voldemort ruled the world in the future? It wasn't like they'd give a shit if they were already dead at that point. 

Like Jim said, it would be someone else's problem. 

"So, what do we do now?" She asked. 

Jim leaned across the table so they were inches apart, a vicious grin on his face, green eyes bright. 

"Let's fuck shit up."

Chapter Text

On the 24th of July, 1991, two people would wake up in a world that wasn't their own. Neither of them would remember what happened on the day they left their own world. They would have no idea that they'd died. 

This was a good thing, because if they remembered the circumstances of their death they would definitely do it again. 

Because they were idiots. 

On October 31st, 2018, two best friends were trick-or-treating. This was unusual only in the fact that these two friends were twenty three years old and one of their 'treats' was a stolen car. 

Their version of trick-or-treating didn't involve sweets or throwing eggs at houses like it had been when they were younger. Trick-or-treating was a competition for who could cause the most chaos before midnight, and it was one of the many reasons they'd been to court. Halloween over the years had led to fines, community service, and probation.

This year they'd upped their game. 

Because they were drunk. 

Very drunk. 

Sam didn't know when the police had been called. Probably somewhere between them setting a garden shed on fire and crashing their stolen car into a BMW parked on someone's driveway. Their new car had a cracked windshield, a flat tyre, and nothing to hold onto. 

It was that last one that Sam was focused on as Jim took a corner at a speed she would have been leery of even if they weren't drunk and being pursued.

"Stop trying to dictate my life! Shut up or I'll kill us all!" Jim was shouting, nearly rear-ending a Toyota as he whipped through traffic.

The GPS ignored the threat and recalculated for the fourteenth time. 

"Turn left!" Sam pointed at the sign up ahead. "That's the way to the beach!"

Jim wrenched the wheel to the side, nearly missing the turn and taking the side mirror off a passing car. 

"Oh my God I'm going to throw up." Sam complained. "I knew we shouldn't have done those tequila shots."

"Turn around when possible." The GPS instructed. Jim swerved angrily into the next lane. Sam grabbed the wheel and brought the car back to their own side of the road. 

"Turn around when possible."

"Sammy, get rid of her!"

Sam grabbed the GPS and threw it out the window. Jim let out a sigh of relief.

Catching sight of a police car up ahead, Jim directed the car into oncoming traffic, the headlights of the cars blinding them for a second. The car jolted when they went over the curb and then they were speeding through a car park to reach the road on the other side. 

Jim slammed his hand on the radio. Rap music blared from the speakers immediately, almost drowning out the sound of the sirens.

"Sammy!"

Sam ejected the disk and threw it out the window.

Glancing in the rear view mirror, Jim sighed. The police were still following them. "Don't they have anything better to do?" He let go of the steering wheel to search his pockets and Sam reached over to steer. "I've lost my fags!"

"I've got them." Sam reminded him. "Take the wheel."

"I'm not Jesus." Jim said, but he did put his hands back on the steering wheel. Sam put the bottle of vodka between her feet so she could find the cigarettes.

"Here." She said when she finally found the box, handing it over. Jim pulled one from the pack and put his knees on the wheel to steer while he tried to get the lighter to work. 

Sam grabbed the vodka and took a swig. "Ack!" She pulled a face, looking around the floor by her feet. "Where's the lemonade?"

"In the back." Jim said, and she handed him the bottle so she could turn around to check the seats, sparing the police cars behind them a glance.

"There's four of them now." She told him as she climbed into the back, kicking him in the shoulder as she went. "Sorry."

"Ow." Was the response.

The bottle of lemonade had fallen on the floor, rolling under the front seat when Jim took another sharp turn. Sam lay down across the back seat to find it. "Hey," she grabbed the book that had been abandoned by the owner of the car under the driver's seat. "Look!"

Jim looked in the mirror when Sam held up the book. "Harry Potter?"

"Yup." She tossed the book into the front, grabbed the slightly battered bottle of lemonade, and climbed back into her seat. "I haven't read them in ages."

"I've only seen the films." Jim said, flicking ash from his cigarette out the window and looking behind them, red and blue still flashing in the mirrors. "I thought they would have given up by now. It's getting late, aren't they bored yet?"

"We're way more interesting than a few kids egging houses." Sam unscrewed the top off the lemonade and poured half of it out the window, then topped it up with the vodka. "We can lose them at the beach."

Jim nodded. "We can swim off into the sea. It's foolproof."

"No. No sea. I'm not going anywhere near the sea."

"I'll drive the car into the sea, Sammy. You have no choice." He made a grabby gesture. "Gimme."

Sam handed him the bottle and flipped through the book. "Do you want me to read you a story?"

"You shouldn't distract the driver, Sammy." Jim said, then took a generous swig from the bottle. "That's dangerous."

Sam snorted and put her feet up. Turning to a random page, she cleared her throat. "Harry dodged the Smeltings stick and went to get the post." She read aloud. Jim, in the middle of taking a drink, choked.

"You made that up!" He accused once he stopped coughing. 

"It's canon!"

"Bull!"

"It is!"

Jim let go of the wheel to try and take the book from her and Sam held it out the window to keep it out of his reach. Then they both noticed two very important things at the same time. 

"The beach!" Sam said gleefully at the sight of the distant dark water out the window. 

"Midnight!" Jim pointed at the digital clock on the dashboard. "I win! Three years in a row! I'm unstoppable -"

"JIM!"

Jim turned his gaze back to the road just in time to see their single headlight shine on the sharp corner ahead, the end of the road leading to a long drop to the rocks below.

A second before the car went barrelling over the cliff, Jim said one word that summed up their situation perfectly.

"Whoops."

It was a word that had been said many times in their life, and it was a fitting last word for two idiots who had ended their lives by starting a police chase because they were trick-or-treating.

Or, it would have been, had that been the end of their lives. 

After all, tonight was the night the veil between the living and the dead was the thinnest.

As the stolen car hit the rocks below, deep in the Department of Mysteries a physical manifestation of a door separating life and death became active for the first time in centuries.

In the archway, ancient and cracked and crumbling, the tattered black curtain fluttered in a whisper of voices. 

There were no Unspeakables to witness this, no one aware that their assumption that whatever came through the Veil had to enter it in the first place was wrong. Not one of them knew that a world could exist behind that black curtain, that their studies of space and thought and time around such a powerful artefact could create a doorway, that evidence of their world could slip through the cracks and manifest itself in another. 

There was a hole in the fabric of the universe, and that torn piece hung in the Department of Mysteries.

In a world without magic existed a story known by millions. On October 31st, 2018, the story was complete. On July 24th, 1991, the story was just beginning. 

And in this place of mystery where questions were asked and none were answered, the door between those two worlds opened. 

An impossible set of circumstances - a single moment, the space between one breath and the next, when two lives ended at midnight reading the story of this other world - and the natural course of events was disrupted.

Two displaced souls that had no bodies of their own in this new world went into the only ones they could, ones they knew from a story they never imagined could be real, and two people who belonged to this world ceased to exist to make room for two people who had no place in it.

Voices of the dead protested as the Veil shifted, Death exhaled, and Fate wove a new story. 

For two idiots, death wasn't the end, but the next great adventure.