First time

All Fools' Day

Chapter 20

All Fools’ Day

Winter had slowly turned into spring, but apart from the weather conditions, nothing else had changed: Snape was still treating Elizabeth like she was nothing more than a piece of dirt stuck on the sole of his shoe, and she still hadn’t quite grown used to it. He didn’t even look at her any more unless he absolutely had to, which, on one hand, suited her perfectly, since she could at least stare at him as much as she wanted without him noticing, but on the other, it bothered her more than she was willing to admit. Fortunately, though, there was at least one thing that could reliably improve her mood every time she was feeling down, and that was changing into her Animagus form. It seemed as if all of her troubles were suddenly part of a different world every time she entered her new, furry body; almost as if every one of her human worries got left behind in the old one. That’s why the silhouette of a black and white cat prowling the corridors of the Hogwarts castle was slowly becoming a more and more frequent sight as the time went by: usually it would be alone, but on many occasions it was known to have appeared in the company of another, ginger-coloured cat, whose human name was, of course, none other than Hermione Granger.

One Wednesday morning at the beginning of April, Elizabeth was once again fighting off a depression in her cat form (this time without Hermione), when she was suddenly grabbed by the tail and somebody’s voice said: “I’ve finally caught you now, you nasty little rat-catcher!”

For one tiny moment, Elizabeth thought she’d probably die of shock, but somehow she had managed to recover, change back into her human form, and finally spin around to see who her attacker was in less than three seconds, only to find Jane laughing her head off and trying to choke out something that sounded suspiciously like “April Fool!”

Elizabeth, however, wasn’t pleased. “Jane! You scared the hell out of me!” she cried, her shrill voice echoing all throughout the corridor. “And stop laughing, it wasn’t funny at all.”

“Maybe not for you,” said Jane, wiping tears from her eyes with the back of her hand, “but for me it was. You should have seen your face!”

Elizabeth only glared at her, despite the fact that she was no longer angry. In fact, she had already started plotting revenge.

Jane, however, didn’t know any of that, and therefore decided not to push her luck any longer and change the subject instead.

“Well, anyway,” she said, desperately trying to keep her face straight, “I’ve come to tell you that if you don’t hurry up, you’ll be late for breakfast. And I don’t really think you’d want to do that, because I’ve heard that Dumbledore’s got some kind of announcement to make.”

Elizabeth, her curiosity aroused, immediately stopped any pretences and simply asked: “What announcement?”

Jane shrugged. “I’m not sure. Something to do with the fact that today’s April 1st, though.”

Indeed it was, for as soon as the noise in the Great Hall (which was unusually packed that day, since almost everybody had come to find out what the Headmaster would have to say) had died down, Dumbledore stood up, graced them all with a huge smile, and then said: “As I’m sure you’re all well aware, today is known as All Fools’ Day. But while in the course of the previous years, the staff,” he shot a meaningful look in Snape’s and McGonagall’s direction, “had always managed to persuade me to forbid any pranks to be played on them, this year I have decided to make a little exception, as I think that with Voldemort on the rise, a hearty laugh will do us all nothing but good. Therefore I give each class permission to play one, I repeat – one, joke on every teacher they are fortunate enough to have today ... and get away with it. So, my dear colleagues...,” Dumbledore turned towards the staff once more, the corners of his mouth twitching, “no point deductions...” (Snape, who had until then been trying to look as though none of this had anything to do with him, now threw the Headmaster one of his most dangerous looks, but, needless to say, with absolutely no result) “...and no detentions today...” (the clash of anger and terrible disappointment in Snape’s expression was unforgettable) “...let the young ones have some fun for once. Have a wonderful day!”

Dumbledore finished and sat down, his eyes twinkling more than ever. Elizabeth, however, was no longer paying him any attention, being too preoccupied with her own thoughts to do so. For she had just realized that her third class that day was none other than Potions with Snape ... and that she had only two lessons to think of something nasty to do to him. This was the perfect opportunity to finally get back at him for all his insults, after all, because love or no love, he definitely deserved it. Maybe Hermione and the rest of her NEWT Potions class would help her think of something...

But the Gryffindor seemed to have other things on her mind when Elizabeth met with her before the start of their Transfiguration class, mainly her lead role in the class’s prank on Professor McGonagall ... as well as the organization of the joke planned for Mrs. Figg, which Hermione had, for reasons unknown, also been put in charge of. Ernie and Hannah’s contribution to the matter wasn’t much better, either, because although they had promised to definitely try and think of something the class could do to Snape, they absolutely refused to participate in the prank itself, their fear of the Potions master being just too great. And as for Draco and Pansy ... well, Elizabeth didn’t even dare to ask those two.

Transfiguration was over much too fast, and Elizabeth still hadn’t thought of anything clever enough to say that, although completely untrue, would sound probable, making it at least slightly possible for Snape to buy. Sure, she could always settle for some spell or other that would either set his robes on fire, turn his hair pink, or perhaps even expose his underwear (err ... she probably wouldn’t get away with that one, anyway), but that wasn’t quite what she wanted. Some joke featuring only smartly chosen words was what she was really looking for; something a bit like what Hermione had done in Transfiguration (having, for the first time in her life, answered “I don’t know” to one of McGonagall’s questions, causing the Head of Gryffindor to look like she’d been slapped across the face for a while, or at least until Hermione had finally decided to yell “April Fool!” and quickly deliver the correct answer), only, if possible, a little better.

There was no time to follow such thoughts, however, because faster than she could say ‘swish and flick’, the next lesson, Charms, had arrived, and with it the time for another joke ... this time involving the whole class. Elizabeth couldn’t help but smile: she was really looking forward to this one, because although she liked her Head of House very much, his absent-mindedness really could get a little frustrating sometimes. It was actually Jane’s idea to make use of it for once, and Elizabeth hoped with all her heart that the plan would turn out well.

It was all really very simple and, just like Hermione’s joke, required absolutely no magic: all the class had to do was to hide in the small chamber adjoining the Charms classroom, stay quiet, and then just watch Flitwick’s reaction to the sudden disapperance of his students. And later, of course, remember to run out and yell “April Fool!” and proceed to laugh themselves silly.

“Hey, Jane, what do you think his reaction will be?” asked Elizabeth quietly as she, her friend and the rest of the class finally found themselves crowded in the tiny room, waiting for Flitwick’s arrival.

“I don’t know. But I hope he thinks that he’s got his timetable mixed up again. He’s done it before, remember? Came when he wasn’t supposed to ... and vice versa.”

“Yeah, and more than once,” agreed Elizabeth and, sensing the perfect opportunity, casually added: “By the way, I’d do something about that skirt of yours if I were you. I think you must’ve ripped it somewhere.”

Jane, her mind still on the result of their joke on Flitwick rather than on keeping an eye out for any potential revenge from Elizabeth, immediately rose to the bait.

“What? Where?” she exclaimed, frantically searching her skirt for any sign of the non-existent tear.

Elizabeth pointed to the most impossible-to-have-a-look-at part of Jane’s garment. “Right there.”

Jane almost fell over in her desperate attempt to spot the flaw, earning quite a few grunts from her class mates whom she had managed to successfully elbow in the ribs.

Finally, Elizabeth simply couldn’t stand it any longer and collapsed in a set of uncontrolable giggles, barely managing to call “April Fool!” before she did so.

“That is so not funny,” proclaimed Jane, straightening her skirt.

“Yes, it is,” laughed Elizabeth. “It’s totally hilarious how this joke works simply every time!”

“Shup up, you two!” somebody shouted angrily from the back of the room. “Flitwick should arrive any minute now!”

Elizabeth had to admit that whoever had said that was, of course, right, and her giggles quickly subsided. Jane also chose not to speak again, but couldn’t resist shooting her friend a menacing glare every now and then.

Professor Flitwick arrived about half a minute later, and Elizabeth almost burst out laughing again when she saw his confused expression through the slightly open door.

“Not again!” she heard him mutter. “Wrong time!”

And with that, the tiny wizard turned around and began to leave, still muttering something like “But I could’ve sworn that I had a lesson now!” and shaking his head.

“Now!” whispered Jane and, energetically opening the heavy door all the way, burst into the deserted classroom, closely followed by the rest of her class mates.

“APRIL FOOL!” they all yelled at the top of their lungs, causing Flitwick to immediately spin around in shock as well as surprise.

“Oh m ... my,” he stuttered, desperately trying to regain his lost composure. “You’ve r ... really startled me there.” And then, with a sudden smile, he added: “But it was good, very good! I really thought I’ve made a mistake and come to teach at the wrong time!”

“That was the point,” Jane whispered to Elizabeth as they slowly made their way towards their seats, both shaking with laughter.

As the lesson started nearing its end, however, Elizabeth’s expression was slowly turning more and more serious, for she still hadn’t managed to figure out what she could possibly do to Snape.

She met with the rest of her class mates for his lesson outside the Potions classroom, but, to her endless disappointment, nor Ernie, nor Hannah had managed to think of anything good to do to him either, and were now even advising her to just give the whole ‘April Fool on Snape’ idea up, arguing with the fact that she’d at least save herself a huge amount of trouble, not to mention prevent Snape from holding a lifetime grudge against her.

‘He’s already got a lifetime grudge against me anyway,’ Elizabeth thought dejectedly as she slowly shuffled into the classroom, looking sideways just in time to see Snape throw her one of his famous death glares.

However, she soon noticed that this time she wasn’t actually the only one who was being subjected to Snape’s never-ending supply of hate, seeing the other students were exceptionally receiving the same treatment as she was. There was really no doubt as to the reason of this anomaly, either, for it was quite obvious that the looks Snape was giving them was simply his way of warning them not to even think about trying to play some sort of joke on him ... or else.

Elizabeth clenched her fists in frustration; she simply couldn’t let him have his way! Even if she had to do something completely stupid, she would ... just to show him that even though the others might be too afraid to come up with some kind of prank on him, she definitely wasn’t.

‘Then again, maybe that won’t be necessary,’ she thought with a wicked grin, Snape’s first words inspiring her with a sudden idea. A great idea for an excellent prank!

“I believe I’ve given you some homework last lesson,” he said, sweeping over to his desk and turning around to face them, “which I want you all to hand in to me ... now.”

What if she pretended that she had forgotten her homework in the Ravenclaw common room? It had happened to her before (to her great embarrassment, too), so it shouldn’t look too suspicious, and on top of that, Snape was always absolutely bursting to find even the slightest thing that she had done wrong, meaning he could momentarily forget all about All Fools’ Day in his eagerness to punish her. She had to make it all look very very convincing, however, because she knew only too well that one small slip could easily be just enough to give her away.

But to her it was definitely worth the risk, and so, as the rest of the class hastily got up to hand in their papers, Elizabeth remained in her seat, feverishly pretending to search her bag in a desperate attempt to find her missing homework.

It didn’t take long before all the students had eventually returned to their seats, and Elizabeth didn’t even have to look up to know that Snape’s attention was now all on her.

“Is there a problem, Miss Woodhouse?” he asked finally, sounding very much like he wished there was. “Surely you haven’t forgotten your homework?”

Elizabeth slowly glanced up, trying to look as guilty as she possibly could.

“I ... I think I have, sir,” she said meekly. “I must’ve left it up in the common room. But I could go and get it right now if-”

“I don’t think so,” Snape cut her off in that ever so silky voice of his. “I’m giving you zero marks for the homework, and I think I’ll also deduct-”

“You can’t do that, sir,” protested Elizabeth, inwardly already celebrating victory. She simply couldn’t believe that he had bought it! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Snape’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, Miss Woodhouse?” he asked in his most dangerous voice.

“I mean – APRIL FOOL!” Elizabeth yelled, pulling her homework out of her bag with a flourish. “My homework’s right here.”

For a short moment, Snape was left completely speechless, the only way to tell what was going on in his mind being through his rather expressive eyes, which were currently flashing like two burning coals and clearly reflecting a mixture of anger and surprise.

Finally, after what seemed like ages to Elizabeth, but was probably only a second or two, he determinedly strode over to her table and held out his hand.

“Give me the homework,” he ordered quietly.

Elizabeth hastily obeyed, nervously awaiting what was to follow. She couldn’t think of anything that he could possibly do to her, but was sure it would be far from good.

Snape, however, didn’t say anything and simply glared down at her for a while, before his lips finally spread out in a triumphant smile.

“I would have thought you wiser than to try and outsmart me, Miss Woodhouse,” he said slowly, his hypnotizing black eyes boring into hers. “Obviously, I have overestimated you. Perhaps you need something to remind you not to ever play jokes on me again. How about an essay, Miss Woodhouse? Five rolls of parchment on the uses of asphodel in potion-making – to be handed in next lesson.”

“But ... you can’t ... the Headmaster said...” Elizabeth spluttered, too angry to produce a coherent sentence. He simply couldn’t punish her for the joke; he had no right to!

“Can’t I, Miss Woodhouse?” Snape asked maliciously. “The Headmaster might have mentioned point deductions and detentions, but I am quite sure he said nothing about essays as a form of punishment for April Fool jokes. Now – if you would kindly let me get on with the lesson...”

Elizabeth felt as if somebody had stolen her new toy. She just couldn’t believe it: there she was, only a few minutes ago, thinking how she had miraculously managed to pull off the perfect prank, but now ... now it suddenly looked as though it would be Snape who’d come out as the winner once again ... with nothing she could do against it. He even went as far as pointedly ignoring her for the rest of the lesson, as if to show her just how little her idiotic joke had affected him.

When the class finally reached its end, however, Elizabeth was surprised to suddenly hear him call her name, causing the whole room to immediately fall silent as everybody breathlessly awaited what was to come. She slowly glanced up, and saw Snape regarding her in a very unnerving fashion, his all too familiar twisted smile firmly in place.

And then he spoke, although his words were so unexpected that Elizabeth wasn’t sure if she’d heard them at all.

“April Fool, Miss Woodhouse.”

Elizabeth slowly let the sentence sink in. April Fool? But he hadn’t done anything ... or had he?

She quickly checked all the parts of her body which she could possibly afford to have a look at in an attempt to spot anything out of the ordinary, but everything seemed perfectly normal. And since even the other students were looking absolutely puzzled by Snape’s strange statement, she decided that the answer to the problem had to most likely lie elsewhere. But where?

Well, Snape was the only one who could possibly give her the answer to that.

“Um ... sir?” she asked in a tiny voice. “Wh ... what is an April Fool?”

It seemed as if Snape had been waiting for this question all along, for his twisted smile immediately widened and his eyes lit up with triumph.

“Your essay, Miss Woodhouse,” he said smugly.

“My essay?” repeated Elizabeth, completely dumbfounded. “Does ... does that mean I don’t have to write it?”

‘Does that mean Snape has a sense of humour?’

“Oh no, Miss Woodhouse, you do have to write it,” said Snape slowly, as if relishing every word. “Only not five rolls of parchment ... but ten.”

‘All right, scratch that. A twisted sense of humour might be a slightly better description.’
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